The San Francisco 49ers narrowly defeated the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, claiming a 19-17 victory on the back of a late Phil Dawson field goal. And while the offense and defense had their moments, this was a bit of the Phil Dawson show as well. The 49ers kicker finished the 4 for 4 on field goals, including a long of 52.
Phil Dawson has now made 20 consecutive field goals, setting the record for most consecutive field goals. Joe Nedney held the previous record, having connected on 18 straight field goals. Dawson also holds the Cleveland Browns record for consecutive field goals made, and according to the Elias Sports Bureau, he joins Olindo Mare and Neil Rackers as the only kickers to hold such a record for two franchises.
The 49ers dealt with questionable kicking throughout last season as David Akers struggled with a sports hernia issue. The team signed Dawson early in free agency, and I don't think the 49ers could be a whole lot happier. He could be better on kickoffs, but the 49ers coverage units do a great job bringing down returners. He's 23 of 26 on field goal attempts, and distance really hasn't been an issue.
Dawson is only signed for one year, so we'll see what the close of this season brings in free agency. Dawson is 38, and given his performance this season, age is not really a concern. And it's really quite nice having a solid kicker in place through these first 13 games.
Dawson met with the media after the game, and had plenty to say. He provided some great insight into what goes through the mind of a kicker in cold weather, and when dealing with a potential game-winning kick.
For some of us, those were cold and windy conditions out there. But for someone like yourself, it was no big deal.
"I don't know if you can ever get used to them. It was the tale of two halves. The first half, it was cold and the wind wasn't really blowing all that much. And then when we went out to warm up for the second half, it started blowing and the temperature started dropping. It was definitely the type of conditions where you had to pay attention to every little thing."
The game winner was obviously the big one, but you're on just quite a roll now. How comfortable are you feeling with this special teams group and especially your snapper?
"My teammates have been great since the first day I got here. They've embraced me and welcomed me. I've just been trying each and every day to continue to get better and settle in a little more. We're executing pretty well as an entire unit."
Is your streak something you're aware of?
"I try not to think about it. I try to treat every kick the same. You have to have a bad memory. Unfortunately, I have a really good memory so I can remember my last miss. You just try to go out there each and every time and focus on the task at hand. Let's be honest, you get on these rolls and everything goes in to where you're kicking really well. You have to enjoy it when the ball's going where it's supposed to for as long as possible."
You do what you're asked to do. But with a good and physical opponent like that, do you come into the game thinking it's going to be a field goal game and getting a little more psyched than usual?
"The thing about the NFL, with the exception of a few games here and there, most games come down to the end. From a mindset standpoint, I come into every game expecting every point to be crucial. It just so happens every now and then it comes down to a field goal. Today, I have to credit our offense. It was tough sledding moving the ball. Not only did they get in range at the end, but they got well in there and it was a pretty manageable kick. They deserve a lot of credit for that. If that same exact kick is 25 yards further, it would've been pretty difficult."
What's your team like on a play like that when there's 30 seconds left and you know you're going to get a shot? What do you go through on the sidelines before you go out?
"Generally, what I try to do when we get into scoring range is when I'm kicking into the net, I pay attention to where the ball's being snapped. So if it's on the right hash, I'll pretend I'm on the right hash. Especially in that situation where we had a time out and knew the ball was in the middle, I got one last kick down the middle and get that muscle memory. So when you go out there, the pressure is there and you're nervous, muscle memory takes over and hopefully you make the kick."
When [RB Frank] Gore's run finished, did you think that the conditions would be such that it would still be a difficult kick? Did they need the [QB Colin] Kaepernick sweep to make sure it was as easy as possible?
"That first down Kap got was huge. My primary concern at that point was [DE] Red Bryant blocks a lot of kicks. We knew coming into this game that they were going to get good push up the middle. I needed to get the ball up quickly. On a windy day, sometimes getting the ball up quickly makes it move more left-to-right or right-to-left. So getting the ball in there where it didn't have much time to move around, given the wind conditions, was huge."