Thursday, December 16, 2010

Dawson might be Cleveland’s weather beater

December 10, 2010


You don't always need The Weather Channel when Phil Dawson is around.

The Browns kicker begins tracking the weather in the city in which he's scheduled to play early in the week. His forecast for Sunday in Buffalo, where the Browns and Bills will meet, isn't pretty.

"The temperature is going to be dropping all day," Dawson said. "We're going to have some rain, some ice and some snow. It's going to be one of those games."

It's hard to believe the weather could be worse than the conditions the teams dealt with in Cleveland in 2007. The field was covered with a deep snow and the wind blowing off Lake Erie was treacherous.

Somehow, Dawson managed to kick field goals of 35 and 49 yards to lead the Browns to an 8-0 win in what remains the highlight of his 12-year career.

Like all kickers, Dawson would prefer perfect conditions each week, but that rarely happens in outdoor stadiums in cold-weather cities. He relishes the challenge of defeating the elements.

"I enjoy them. I love to compete," Dawson said. "I was an undersized offensive tackle in high school. I learned to embrace the mismatch and enjoy kind of being the underdog.

"When I go into a game, the cards are stacked against you in terms of the conditions. It's an opportunity to rise to the challenge and see what you've got."

Dawson has often said that kicking in bad weather at Cleveland Browns Stadium is about as difficult a challenge as there is for a kicker. While Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo can be brutal at this time of the year, it's has an advantage over Cleveland in Dawson's thinking.

"This (Buffalo) is one of the toughest places to kick," Dawson said. "I'm glad it's field turf instead of grass. It would be even worse. If I have good footing, I can overcome a lot of things. I'll have that because of the field turf. When you have the bad field on top of all that other stuff is when it's ridiculous."

There's something about the sight of Buffalo's uniforms that brings out the best in Dawson. His remarkable showing in the 2007 game was followed a year later when he made five-of five attempts, including a career-long 57-yard field goal on the final play to give the Browns a 29-27 win on a Monday Night Football game.

"That was sweet because that's a big stage," Dawson said. "To get an opportunity to make a long one on Monday Night Football to win the game was pretty fun."

Dawson's performance in the '07 game, however, remains at the top of the list.

"I'll probably never play in a game like that, just weather-wise" he said. "And then to have an opportunity to make two kicks was pretty special and to see the team win. We were making a playoff push at the time and trying to make things interesting coming in."

Dawson had a game-winning field goal last Sunday against the Miami Dolphins, increasing his career total to 13. Earlier this season Dawson, who has 247 career field goals, surpassed the legendary Lou Groza for the franchise record. Groza made 234 field goals.

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