Redemption ‘sweet’ for Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson

Nov 26, 2017, 7:34 PM | Updated: Nov 27, 2017, 11:44 am

Arizona Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson (4) celebrates his game winning 57-yard field goal during the ...

Arizona Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson (4) celebrates his game winning 57-yard field goal during the second half of an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars with cornerback Patrick Peterson (21), Sunday, Nov. 26, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. The Cardinals won 27-24. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Just a few short weeks ago, Arizona Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson missed a 38-yard field goal on the game’s opening drive.

The Cardinals would go on to beat the San Francisco 49ers, 20-10, with Dawson providing two other field goals and two extra points, but the trend of missed kicks was becoming disturbing.

Dawson was brought to Arizona to cure an inconsistent kicking game, but he missed six kicks in the season’s first eight weeks — the same number he missed in his last two seasons in San Francisco.

Since that early miss against his former team, Dawson has been perfect. Sunday, the game came down to his right foot, and the 42-year-old veteran blasted a 57-yard field goal through the uprights with one second left to give the Cardinals a 27-24 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars at University of Phoenix Stadium.

The kick doesn’t fix all the ills in what has been a trying season for Dawson and the team, but it did provide a pretty big Band-Aid.

It didn’t look like Dawson would get an opportunity to win it in regulation. After a Jacksonville punt, it looked like the game would be headed to overtime. The Cardinals had the ball at their own 39-yard line with no timeouts. Quarterback Blaine Gabbert hit Kerwynn Williams for 10 yards on a sideline rout on the first play.

The Cardinals ran another pass play to the sidelines with a different running back, D.J. Foster, who made a great catch and got both feet down for a 12-yard gain that was upheld after video review.

“That’s a situation we work a lot,” Dawson said. “There was really good communication on the sideline. Everybody knew exactly what the plan was. I believe on the last offensive play, there was 11 seconds left. That limits how deep your route can be.

“I’ve got to hand it to Blaine. He had to break the pocket a little bit and he had the awareness to get the ball out quick. Great catch on the sideline, and we were able to go out there and give it a rip.”

A rip it was. Dawson’s game-winner was the longest of the 421 field goals he’s made in his career. But despite the distance of the attempt, Dawson was careful not to “over-kick” it.

“I’ve had a few long attempts in my career before and a mistake I’ve made is to try to hop on it and hit it too hard, so I was really trying to focus on just hitting it smooth, get it online and trust the Arizona dome that the ball will track, and it did,” he said.

Some of Dawson’s teammates chuckled at the fact that a 57-yard kick could be converted without much exertion.

“It was smooth, alright,” Gabbert said with a smile.

Dawson is well-versed in the wild swings in a kicker’s life. Make a game-winner and you’re a hero. Miss some attempts under 40 yards, and fans and media are calling for your job.

He’s not wiling to say that his season — disappointing to this point — has been turned around by the make. He is willing to enjoy it.

“I make it a habit not to evaluate a season in its entirety until it’s over, but today was sweet,” he said.

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