What left me scratching my head, slouched back in my sofa, and wondering if this franchise really is snakebit or cursed or otherwise destined for an eternity in pigskin purgatory, occurred with 40 seconds remaining in the first half.
Understand, I am of the opinion that Phil Dawson is the Browns’ most valuable player since their return to the NFL in 1999. Josh Cribbs continues to build a case for himself in that category, but Dawson still holds the distinction in my mind—for longevity, if nothing else.
So I don't come to bury Dawson. Still…
Out he came, the Browns clinging to a one-point lead, to attempt a 42-yard field goal. For Dawson, that’s a chip shot. He’s one of those kickers who seems to have defied the laws of nature and gotten stronger as he’s aged.
Forty-two yards? Please. That’s money in the bank.
Dawson is old reliable. He’s the calm in the midst of the storm. He’s the anchor on the boat. He’s the yin to somebody’s yang. He’s the marshmallow on the s’more. He’s…
…the last, best hope to remind us that there is sense to be made out of this team, and this season.
And he missed. Badly. From 42 yards.
He stared for a moment, as if even he couldn’t believe it. Then he walked off the field and stood on the sidelines, expressionless.
He never got another chance to put points on the board. Romeo Crennel's defense slammed the door on the Browns in the second half.
Meanwhile, the hapless Chiefs managed just enough offense to muster up one more field goal, and a 16-14 win.
The Browns had lost a second consecutive game they should have won—and needed to win—and were now staring down the barrel of a seven-game gun that could blow their heads clean off.
The loss wasn’t Dawson’s fault, of course, but those three points sure would have come in handy.
What in the name of Billy Cundiff is going on here?
Are curses infectious? Can they spread like a virus, even to those, like Dawson, who appear to be immune?
Phil Dawson doesn’t miss kicks like that. He makes them. He bails out his teammates and gives the Browns just enough of a cushion so they can emerge victorious and hang around for another week.
Not this time. Call it an omen.
Much had been written, leading up to the game Sunday, about how the Browns needed to start fast this season. I said it more than once. So did many others.
They needed to beat Tampa Bay, and didn’t. Then they needed to beat the Chiefs, and didn’t.
Had Dawson made that field goal, they might still have found a way to lose. These are the Browns, after all. But the fact that they eventually lost by two, when they might have won by one, makes it even more agonizing.
Dawson, who has connected on 83 percent of his career field goal attempts, is now 0-for-2 on the season.
So are the Browns.
Just when you think things can’t get more mind-boggling, they do.
Both games in this young season have been winnable. In what has become true Browns fashion, however, they were lost.
What more can be said? How can the hopes of a city and its fans be so consistently and insidiously dashed?
When will it end? Or will it ever end at all?
Mike Holmgren came riding into town on a white horse—more precisely, in a white golf cart—bringing with him the hope for a better tomorrow.
By “tomorrow,” however, Browns fans were thinking of the next day, and the day after that—not the next year, and the year after that.
The truth is, tomorrow never comes.
Against teams like the Buccaneers and Chiefs, however, the time to win is now.
Nothing else will cure what ails this franchise and its fans.