PFF: Cardinals special teams ranked No. 21 through first four weeks
The Arizona Cardinals’ Week 4 loss at home against the Seattle Seahawks came down to pivotal moments on special teams.
Kicker Phil Dawson missed a 50-yard field goal at the end of the first half of Sunday’s game and one from 45 yards with 1:55 left in the fourth quarter that potentially could have been the game-winning score for Arizona.
Through the first quarter of the 2018 season, Pro Football Focus ranked Dawson and the Cardinals’ special teams No. 21.
Phil Dawson didn’t kick a field goal until last week and was only 1-3 doing so. However, Andy Lee has been the league fifth highest-graded punter through four weeks, and it’s likely they’ll need him and his 4.32 average hang time more than Dawson moving forward.
Despite Dawson’s misses on Sunday, Cardinals general manager Steve Keim has faith in the 43-year-old to bounce back.
“Phil is a true pro in every sense,” Keim told Doug & Wolf on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station on Friday. “I know he took accountability for that missed kick and quite frankly he was right — he’s got to make that.
“But if there’s anybody that’s going to bounce back to me it’d be someone like Phil Dawson who has, again, has done it for a number of years and is probably using that as a chip on his shoulder to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Dawson has made 83.9 percent of field goals in his career entering his 20th season. He made 32 of 40 field goals last season, his first with Arizona, including 14-of-19 from 40 yards or more.
Lee is averaging 51 yards per punt, ranked second in the league. The 35-year-old averaged 47.3 yards last season, his first as a Cardinal. He broke the franchise record and finished seventh in the NFL in yards averaged.
The San Francisco 49ers, Arizona’s opponent on Sunday, rank almost at the bottom at No. 31 in PFF’s rankings due to struggles with special teams coverage. The Cardinals look to capitalize from that as the team tries for its first win of the season.