On the same day kicker Phil Dawson had an awful game for the Arizona Cardinals, the kicker they recently released, Matthew McCrane is a hero.
Kicking in the NFL can be a rollercoaster experience and perhaps nothing explains both sides more than the situations Phil Dawson and Matt McCrane found themselves in on Sunday afternoon. Dawson, now in his second season as the kicker for the Arizona Cardinals, missed two field goals in Arizona’s 20-17 loss to the Seattle Seahawks — including the potential game-winning kick late in the fourth quarter. McCrane, on the other hand, was the hero for the Oakland Raiders after nailing a game-winner in overtime against the Cleveland Browns.
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And while that’s just not too crazy on its face, it becomes a lot more intriguing when you rewind things back a few months.
You see, the two battled for Arizona’s kicking job in training camp. It was a classic old school vs. new school situation, as Dawson had been in NFL training camps since 1998 while McCrane, an undrafted rookie, was entering his first-ever camp. To start, most thought it wasn’t much of a competition, yet after several misses by Dawson and the opposite from McCrane, it appeared as if the rookie earned the job.
Personally, I was Team McCrane but the front office thought otherwise; the rookie was let go by Arizona before the regular season in favor of the elder foot.
As expected, McCrane was given another chance in the NFL by the Oakland Raiders last week.
While he missed two field goals from Oakland’s infield dirt during his debut (one in overtime), head coach Jon Gruden called on him with the game on the line. From 29-yards out, he drilled the kick to hand Gruden and company their first win of the season. In total, he went 3-for-5 on field goals and 4-for-4 on extra points.
Hours later, Dawson found himself in a similar spot.
Tied 17-17, Dawson stepped out with less than two minutes remaining to attempt a 45-yard field goal. Rather than putting the pressure on Seattle, he pushed the kick to the right and put the pressure on Arizona’s defense to make a stop. Not long after the miss, the Seahawks won on a game-winning kick from Sebastian Janikowski.
Oakland got their first win.
Arizona, unfortunately, will have to wait until next week.
To wrap things up, this is more of an indictment on Phil Dawson than praise for McCrane. Undoubtedly, something has been wrong with the 43-year-old kicker. I understand seniority and all but he’s now 3-for-7 on field goals dating back to the preseason, and last year wasn’t very good either. In 2017, Dawson missed three extra points (a career-worst) and his 88-percent field goal mark was his lowest in over a decade. That’s definitely something, so maybe it’s time to reconsider things.