BALTIMORE – Phil Dawson has seen it all as a member of the Browns.
Most of it`s been bad.
But Sunday vs. the hated Ravens, Dawson played a starring role in what might prove to be the win that turned the fortunes of the franchise. It`s too early to know that, but Dawson was soaking up the good vibes.
“It`s about time this franchise got a call,” said Dawson, the only player remaining from the expansion year of 1999.
The call was the correct one. Dawson`s 51-yard field goal as time expired glanced off the left upright and landed about a yard deep on the extension that extends from the crossbar into the ground. The ball bounced back in front of the crossbar and was originally ruled no good.
“When the referees say no good, you think no good,” punter and holder Dave Zastudil said. “I`m just ecstatic. The football gods were on our side today.”
After the officials huddled, it was ruled good. A ball that clears the crossbar and hits the extension is good.
“I couldn`t tell for sure,” said Dawson, who added the 33-yarder in overtime, his 10th game-winner. “We had people under the goalpost screaming at the top of their lungs that it had hit whatever you call that bar that connects the crossbar to the supports.
“They came to the right decision.”
“It wasn`t a fluke kick,” receiver Joe Jurevicius said.
Dawson, who said his range extended to 52 or 53 yards, has been at the heart of fantastic finishes three weeks in a row. He won the Seattle game two weeks ago with a
25-yarder in overtime, then missed a
52-yarder in the final seconds against Pittsburgh that would`ve forced overtime.
On Sunday, he missed a 35-yarder in the first quarter and the Browns botched what would`ve been a 48-yard attempt when the snap came too soon and Zastudil tried to run. But Dawson rebounded with makes from 28, 39, 51 and 33.
“I wish I had something profound to say,” he said. “I`m a little numb at the moment. From highs of highs to lows of lows to right back on the mountaintop again. That`s just life in the NFL. That was quite a moment.
“To come up short last week and have to hear my leg`s not what it used to be and I can`t handle the pressure and all that. To have an opportunity to answer both of those with one kick is kind of sweet. It`s even sweeter to share this with all my teammates.”
Dawson wasn`t the only member of the special teams who had an impact. Returner Joshua Cribbs broke his franchise record from last week with 245 yards on kickoff returns. He set up Dawson`s tying field goal with a 39-yard return and paved the way for the winner with a 41-yarder to start overtime.
“He`s our 12th man on offense,” running back Jamal Lewis said. “He came through in the clutch.”
“He`s an unbelievable football player,” Jurevicius said. “I love the fact he`s on our team. He gives us confidence. I like the fact they kicked it to him.”
Ravens coach Brian Billick said during the week that he would try to kick away from Cribbs. But he got seven returns and played a huge role.
“We just have to cover better,” Baltimore kicker and former Brown Matt Stover said. “We have to make sure that we make tackles. The guy`s a good return man. When you look at it, we just have to make plays.”
The Browns were the ones making the plays Sunday.
Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.