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Cardinals K Dawson uses humor to move on from missed FG

Arizona Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson (4) walks away after missing a field goal as Seattle Seahawks defensive back Neiko Thorpe (23) and Arizona Cardinals punter Andy Lee (2) watch during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 30, 2018, in Glendale, Ariz. The Seahawks won 20-17. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

TEMPE, Ariz. — Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson approaches his 300th NFL game Sunday in San Francisco with a heavy weight on his shoulders.

The 43-year-old is coming off a missed kick in the final minutes that set up a 20-17 loss to Seattle last weekend.

For it, Dawson earned himself a private meeting with head coach Steve Wilks on Monday. That’s never a good thing under such circumstances, but Dawson called it a nice conversation. Coach and kicker are on the same page — that improvement is needed.

Or is there a weight on Dawson? This isn’t the 20-year NFL veteran’s first rodeo.

As one of the latest scapegoats for an 0-4 team, the best way to handle all this was to make everyone else feel better.

“I went around today and I told (teammates), ‘You want to be encouraged?’ Of course everyone’s like, ‘Yeah!'” Dawson said Wednesday. “I said, ‘You could be me this week.’

“I’m trying to deal with it with some humor and obviously I’m suffering each and every moment. Just want to get back out on the field and try to get going.”

Dawson has been in this situation before, survived what few have.

He still remembers missed kicks more than a decade old. He remembers as a rookie in 1999 that one coach told him the way to making the team as an undrafted player out of Texas was to — get this — make every kick.

Dawson missed two of three kicks on Sunday against the Seahawks, from 50 yards before the end of the first half and then from 45 yards out with 1:55 left in a tie game. He called the final miss all a result of bad execution and “just a good ol’ fashioned miss.”

Were they signs he’s slowing down?

Dawson hit 80 percent of his tries a year ago and knocked in 10-of-14 from 30-39 yards. Prior he’d never missed more than two attempts in that range through an entire season, though he’s only once before taken that many attempts.

From 40-49 yards, Dawson went 10-of-13 — a career high in attempts from that range as well — and 4-of-5 from 50 yards or more.

As much as he approaches his job simply by taking one kick at a time, Dawson admits analyzing his mistakes keeps the misses fresh in his mind. The makes are just a little easier to forget.

“There’s been times I’ve been on a roll, and I’m making everything and I know I’m not kicking well,” he said. “It’ll add up on you here and there. Sometimes you wish you could just go to work, go home and let it go.”

A career 84 percent kicker, Dawson is carrying on.

Set to become the 11th player in NFL history to reach the 300-game mark, the kicker doesn’t have much time to reminisce. But he does admit that he appreciates surviving this long, playing a high-pressure position where teams are always anxious to place blame and look for replacements.

Dawson can only find humor in these moments to get to the better ones on the field. Take last Sunday, when rookie quarterback Josh Rosen, a player less than half his age, offered the kicker words of encouragement following his miss.

“Here’s a rookie making his first start and he comes up to the oldest — second oldest guy in the league and has some words of encouragement,” Dawson said.

“Obviously coming off a game like last week, super downer,” the kicker added. “You’re going to have ups and downs, and to be able to survive them and accomplish something like this means a great deal.”


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