As Phil Dawson stuffed a seemingly endless supply of cleats into his travel bag, the Browns kicker kept in mind the wicked weather forecast for today’s game in Oakland.
Rain is expected to soak the Bay Area.
“I keep hearing the word torrential,” the soft-spoken Texan said. “Where I come from that means a lot.”
Figures. There will be less-than-ideal conditions when the Browns (3-8) try to snap a 12-game road losing streak as they visit the Raiders (3-8).
But that’s nothing new for Dawson, who despite kicking in swirling winds, on soggy, chewed-up fields and for bad teams throughout his career, is having a perfect season.
In his 14th year with the Browns, the super-steady 37-year-old has never been better. He’s made all 21 field-goal attempts, including five from beyond 50 yards. Dawson, unquestionably the best thing about the Browns since their return as an expansion franchise in 1999, has converted 27 straight kicks since last season, and he’s the only full-time kicker in the NFL without a miss.
Yet, when the league recently released fan balloting for the Pro Bowl, Dawson wasn’t among the top, more than 60,000 votes behind Oakland’s Sebastian Janikowski.
Dawson won’t campaign for selection, but punter Reggie Hodges isn’t ashamed to stump for his teammate.
Hodges, who also holds on field-goal tries, has started pushing for Dawson on Twitter, posting his favorite kicker’s statistics on the social media site and ending his messages with (hash)Dawson4ProBowl. Get Hodges started on Dawson’s Pro Bowl worthiness and he makes a pretty strong case for his teammate to be bound for Hawaii when the season ends.
Hodges believes Dawson is being wrongly overlooked.
“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], five of five from 40 to 49, that’s incredible. Nobody’s doing that.
“Janikowski is having a great year, but he’s kicking in California. You get a little wind out there — maybe.”
Janikowski has only missed once, from 64 yards. Dawson holds Oakland’s lengthy lefty, who shares the NFL record with a 63-yarder, in very high regard and doesn’t like to compare himself to other kickers — except on game day.
“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,” Dawson said. “He’s one of the best there is and deservedly so.”