Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson connects on his second field goal during a busy day against Washington.
LANDOVER, Md. – The Cardinals didn’t want to call on Phil Dawson as often as they did Sunday, but repeated stalls in the red zone put him in the spotlight against the Redskins.
While the team’s offense had trouble putting points on the board, the veteran kicker lit it up with five field goals in the 20-15 loss. It was the second consecutive game Dawson accounted for all of the Cardinals’ scoring after booting four field goals in last week’s 12-7 win over the Titans.
In total, Dawson has scored the team’s past 30 points, dating back to the Rams game in Week 13.
“I’m sure everyone in here would have preferred more extra points,” Dawson said. “But there are ebbs and flows to every season. There will be times when we’re scoring a lot of touchdowns. There will be times when we’re not. It’s our job as a field goal unit to go out whenever we’re called and put the points on the board.”
Dawson made a 40-yard field goal in the first quarter and then added kicks from 35 yards and 19 in the second quarter. He hit from 34 yards in the third quarter and then from 32 in the fourth. Dawson even nailed a 54-yarder, but the Cardinals took it off the board because an illegal leverage penalty on Washington gave them a first down.
“Phil had a great day,” coach Bruce Arians said.
Dawson had some struggles earlier this season but has found a nice groove. He said the return of long snapper Aaron Brewer from injured reserve this week helped the field goal operation.
“It was great having ‘Brew’ back,” Dawson said. “You’ve got to hand him a lot of credit. It’s tough to miss eight, nine games, whatever it was and have a couple of days of practice and then come out in the elements and handle it. That’s a true pro. And protection did an amazing job today. I was able to establish a good rhythm and we’ll all feel good about the results together.”
Dawson also affected the game on the opening kickoff of the second half. The Redskins deferred after winning the coin toss and were set to receive the ball after intermission, but they never touched it. Dawson booted the ball short and it took a fortunate bounce back toward the Cardinals racing down the field.
Safety Budda Baker dove on it, giving the offense excellent field position at the Washington 22.
“I was thinking we were going to start out on defense, so that was really big,” Baker said.
Dawson said the Cardinals noticed an alignment by Washington that allowed the short kick to have a chance of getting recovered.
“That’s exactly how you draw it up, and (Baker) did a great job,” Dawson said. “That was a big plus for us coming out of the half.”
Dawson’s kicking cohort, Andy Lee, also did a solid job, punting the ball five times for an average of 50.2 yards and a long of 63. He had a net punting average of 46.6 yards, as the punt coverage team did a solid job of getting downfield and making tackles. Two of the punts were downed inside the 20.
While the Cardinals’ offense didn’t do enough to win the game, the special teams unit took a step forward after some issues in recent weeks. Dawson was right at home in the crisp Maryland weather after playing most of his career in Cleveland.
“I hate to admit it, but this is probably where I’m most comfortable, on days like this,” Dawson said. “This is where I’ve played most of my career. Field was great. Wasn’t a whole lot of wind. Just a little cold.”