Monday, December 03, 2012

Phil Dawson gets a boost in Pro Bowl bid

Browns kicker Phil Dawson has made all 21 of his field-goal attempts this season, including five of 50-plus yards.

By Mary Kay Cabot

December 1, 2012

BEREA, Ohio — Punter Reggie Hodges has taken to Twitter to get kicker Phil Dawson into the Pro Bowl for the first time in his 14-year career.

After discovering that the robo-legged Dawson isn't even in the top five among AFC kickers in fan voting for the Pro Bowl on, Hodges urged fans on his Twitter account to right the wrong.

"CLEVELAND! @phil_dawson_4 isn't even in the top 5 in the fan votes?? Y'all voted [Peyton] Hillis to Madden cover! Get a real Brown to the Pro-Bowl!!" Hodges wrote.

He also wrote, "The homie @phil_dawson_4 is 21-21 on FG's this season. 5 from 40-49, 5 from 50+! Leads NFL in 50+ FG's made! Is this Pro-Bowl worthy? YEP!"

Dawson, who's made all 21 of his field goals this season and owns the NFL's longest active streak of 27 dating to last season, appreciates the gesture.

"I know he's having a lot of fun with it," Dawson said. "It's obviously something I wouldn't do on my own, so any help you can get is appreciated. We'll see what happens."

Hodges, who punts in the same howling winds and icy rain that Dawson kicks in at Cleveland Browns Stadium, thinks that should be taken into consideration.

"He's been doing it for 14 years, and he's been doing it in the worst conditions," Hodges said. "Browns Stadium is the toughest place in the NFL to kick -- by far. Chicago is a distant second. This place is unbelievable. Late in the year, our field gets chewed up, and through the course of a game, with the rain and snow, it's tough for him to find the right spot to kick off of, and to be 21-of-21 with five over 50 [yards], 5-of-5 from 40 to 49, that's incredible. Nobody's doing that."

The leading vote-getter among fans is Oakland's Sebastian Janikowski, who's made all 19 of his extra points and has missed only one of his 24 field-goal attempts -- a 64-yarder.

"Janikowski is having a great year, but he's kicking in California," Hodges said. "You get a little wind out there -- maybe."

Dawson admitted it would be nice to be recognized after all these years.

"It's not a make-or-break event to feel good about my career, but it's obviously been a goal for a long time," he said. "So to check the box, so to speak, would be meaningful, and with a family of five, free vacations are also a highly sought-after event, so it would be great to experience."

He acknowledged that going against Janikowski adds some intrigue.

"Not necessarily in the context of the Pro Bowl, but each and every week, I don't get an opponent across the line of scrimmage, so I try to compete against the guy I'm going against, and obviously, going against Sebastian is quite a challenge. He's one of the best there is."

Rounding out the top five in fan voting are Baltimore's Justin Tucker, New England's Stephen Gostkowski, Denver's Matt Prater and Pittsburgh's Shaun Suisham.

"Phil hasn't missed a kick all year," said fellow former Texas Longhorn Colt McCoy. "You know that if you get close to the 30, you can take care of the football because you're going to get three points. He's a safety net and he's reliable. Of all the games we've played in this year, the majority of them have been windy or rainy, or some type of weather element, and he's kicked in all of the conditions and done a phenomenal job."

McCoy said if all the kickers were polled, Dawson would be a lock.

"I don't understand why he hasn't made a Pro Bowl yet," McCoy said. "This team's behind him and he deserves it."

Said coach Pat Shurmur: "I think he's been a Pro Bowl-quality kicker for a very long time. I've got a great deal of respect for who he is and what he is as a player. I'm really glad he kicks for us. All of those accolades, he's very deserving of that."

Added Pro Bowler Alex Mack: "You look at his career, he's been incredibly successful, and this season, especially. I'm superstitious. I understand he's done really, really well, and I don't want to jinx him. But he's a true professional, great attitude, smart, he's had a great career and it would be great to see him in Hawaii."

Dawson, who has been given the franchise tag for the second year in a row, knows that anything can happen after the season and that a third straight franchise tag is unlikely due to the sky-high salary. But he won't think about that until the end of the season.

"My focus is on winning a game this Sunday," he said. "If we can go out to Oakland and get a win, I'm gonna feel great about that. All that stuff in this off-season will take care of itself."

His biggest concern is how many pairs of shoes to take to Oakland for the potential flood conditions.

"Honestly, I'm just going to have to show up Sunday and figure out a plan," he said. "The forecasts are all over the place. The consistent thing is, I keep hearing the word, 'torrential.' Where I come from, that means a lot. It may just be one of those fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of days."

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