the study of all things kicker related

Monday, January 6, 2014

NFL Wild Card: Phil Dawson Kicks 49ers to Win

San Francisco kicker Phil Dawson hit field goals of22, 25 & 33 yards in yesterday's NFL Wild Card Game. The latter came on the final play of the game to give the 49ers a 23-20 win over the Packers.

The game was played in Green Bay at Lambeau Field, which a former Packers kicker noted is often painted dirt rather than grass. Dawson said of the surface conditions:
“There’s no grass in the middle of the field, not one blade. I’ve played on fields that were a lot worse than that in terms of football, so the grounds crew deserves credit.”
Of more significance, Lambeau in January usually means less than ideal weather. Yesterday was no exception as Dawson discussed:
“You can’t necessarily prepare for zero degrees and left-to-right wind. Leather gets hard in cold weather. When it’s this cold, the ball doesn’t want to go anywhere. That was the challenge that was there for us today. At the end of the day, you either make the kick or you don’t.”
Dawson's game winning kick was set up by a 14 play, 65 yard, five minute drive.
“To put together a drive like that under any condition is big-time, but especially today with all the factors working against us… getting it into a manageable situation, if there was such a thing tonight....

I owe that kick to the whole offense." 
Just prior to the kick, Dawson had limited interaction with his teammates.
“It’s kind of like (being) the guy with the no-hitter going in the dugout. No one wants to talk to him.... A couple of guys patted me on the head. We all have jobs to do, and I knew I had to do mine.”
The kick was nearly blocked by Packers cornerback Davon House who had jumped offside. San Francisco declined the penalty. Phil Dawson had noticed the early jump:
“I saw, from my perspective, the guy off the left wing get what I thought was a jump prior to the snap. I hurried up a little bit, knowing either I’d make it or get a retry 5 yards closer.”
During his previous 14 years in the league, all with Cleveland, Dawson had played in only one playoff game.
"I waited a long time to win a playoff game. I finally got to do it and it was worth the wait."

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