November 18, 2012

2007: Odd Field Goal Ties Game, Sends Browns to Overtime Win Over Ravens

The Cleveland Browns were seeking to build upon a 5-4 record as they faced the division-rival Baltimore Ravens at M & T Bank Stadium on November 18, 2007. Head Coach Romeo Crennel’s team had won three straight contests before losing at Pittsburgh the previous week. Tall (6’6”) and strong-armed QB Derek Anderson was proving to be a pleasant surprise and ex-Ravens RB Jamal Lewis was beginning to come on as a dependable runner. However, the defense was prone to giving up far too many yards.

The Ravens, coached by Brian Billick, were long known for tough defense but were having trouble on offense. Coming off a 13-3 record in 2006, Baltimore started off the ’07 season at 4-2 but had lost three consecutive games and desperately needed a win. Hobbled 34-year-old veteran QB Steve McNair was benched in favor of fifth-year QB Kyle Boller.

Things started off slowly in the first quarter with neither team moving the ball effectively. Cleveland got a break when Ravens RB Cory Ross fumbled a punt that DB Mike Adams recovered at the Baltimore 28. But after advancing nine yards, Phil Dawson’s 35-yard field goal attempt was wide.

Later in the period QB Kyle Boller fumbled while being sacked and LB Willie McGinest recovered for the Browns at the Baltimore 23. This time the Browns capitalized, with Dawson (pictured above) successful on a 28-yard field goal try.

The Browns added to their lead on the first possession of the second quarter. An 80-yard drive in eight plays was highlighted by Derek Anderson (pictured below) completing a pass to TE Kellen Winslow for 18 yards to the Baltimore one yard line, from where Jamal Lewis scored a touchdown.

Down 10-0, the Ravens could still get nothing going offensively on their next series, but on the second play following their punt LB Ray Lewis intercepted an Anderson pass and returned it 35 yards for a TD. With the successful extra point, Cleveland’s lead was cut to 10-7.

The Browns responded with a 13-play, 42-yard possession that included a 21-yard carry by Jamal Lewis. Dawson again successfully kicked a field goal, this time from 39 yards, and it was a 13-7 tally at the half.

The Ravens had been dismal on offense in the first half, but they drove to a score in their first series of the third quarter. Boller had completions of 16 and 21 yards to WR Derrick Mason and RB Willis McGahee had a 24-yard run that set up his two-yard scoring carry to complete the 75-yard drive in eight plays. With Matt Stover’s successful extra point, it was a 14-13 tally in favor of Baltimore.

Following a short Cleveland series, the Ravens had to punt in turn from deep inside their own territory. Sam Koch’s short kick was returned 26 yards by WR Josh Cribbs to the Baltimore 11 and from there the Browns scored in three plays to regain the lead with Anderson getting the last yard for a touchdown on a quarterback sneak.

The Ravens moved into Cleveland territory on their next series as Boller completed a pass to WR Devard Darling for 26 yards and McGahee had an 18-yard run up the middle to the 20. But Boller, firing for the end zone on his next throw, was intercepted by DB Brodney Pool who returned it 100 yards for a Browns TD. With the successful PAT, Cleveland was up by 13 points at 27-14.

The Ravens responded with a 14-play, 62-yard drive that stretched into the fourth quarter and was helped along by defensive penalties. Matt Stover successfully booted a 34-yard field goal to make it a ten-point game with plenty of time left on the clock.

On their next possession, the Ravens again moved methodically down the field in nine plays that covered 43 yards and ended with another Stover field goal, this time from 41 yards. A short Cleveland series ended with a punt that had the Ravens taking over at their 17 yard line with 5:12 remaining in regulation. Boller immediately threw to Darling for a 42-yard gain and, three plays later, to Darling again for a 27-yard TD. Stover’s extra point was successful and the game was tied up at 27-27.

Upon getting the ball back, Baltimore again drove to a score. Boller completed four passes and ran four yards for a first down in a third-and-two situation. With 31 seconds left on the clock, Stover kicked a 47-yard field goal and it seemed as though the Ravens, up by 30-27 after scoring 16 unanswered points, had the game won.

The Browns got a 39-yard kickoff return from Cribbs and followed up with two passes by Anderson that gained 24 yards. With the remaining time now down to three seconds, Dawson came in to attempt a 51-yard field goal. Dawson’s kick struck the left upright and seemed to strike the crossbar before bouncing back onto the field. The initial call by the officials was that it was no good, and the Ravens began to celebrate and head for the locker room, along with disappointed Cleveland players.

However, some players insisted that the ball had passed through the uprights and hit the center support before bouncing back. Referee Pete Morelli attempted to review the play but was told by the replay official that field goals were not reviewable. Conferencing with the other officials, one of the back judges felt strongly that the ball had passed through the goal posts and Morelli agreed to reverse the initial call and declare it a successful kick (subsequent review of the film proved the reversal to be correct). With the score now tied, the teams were ordered back onto the field and the game went into overtime.

The Browns got the ball first for the extra period and never gave it up. Anderson completed four passes, the most crucial to Winslow for 18 yards to the Baltimore 30. Cleveland picked up an extra 14 yards in four running plays and Dawson came in and successfully kicked a 33-yard field goal of which there was no doubt (pictured below). The Browns came away winners by a final score of 33-30.

Cleveland had the edge in total yards (380 to 368) although the Ravens had more first downs (23 to 22). Baltimore turned the ball over four times, to two by the Browns, and Boller was sacked six times. However, the Browns hurt themselves by being penalized 12 times at a cost of 104 yards (as opposed to two flags for 15 yards on the Ravens).

Derek Anderson completed 24 of 38 passes for 274 yards with no touchdowns and one intercepted. Jamal Lewis was effective, rushing for 92 yards on 22 carries that included a TD. Braylon Edwards caught 8 passes for 85 yards and WR Joe Jurevicius accumulated 82 yards on his four receptions. Josh Cribbs had a big day returning kicks, averaging 35.0 yards on seven kickoff returns and 15.3 returning four punts.

For the Ravens, Kyle Boller overcame a slow start to complete 22 of 41 throws for 279 yards with a TD and two interceptions. Willis McGahee gained 102 yards and scored a touchdown on 21 rushing attempts. Devard Darling gained 107 yards on four pass receptions that included a touchdown while Derrick Mason had 6 catches for 83 yards and TE Quinn Sypniewski also pulled in 6 passes, gaining 53 yards.

Phil Dawson, in talking about the uncertainty over the game-tying field goal at the end of regulation, said “I could tell by the way it glanced off the upright, it looked like it went forward. But we had people down near the goal post who were screaming at the top of their lungs that it had hit whatever that bar you call it.”

“This team, for whatever reason, thrives on adversity,” added Dawson. “The tougher the situation, the better we do. We all had a feeling when we got the call and went into overtime, what a shame it would have been not to capitalize on it.”

Cleveland went on to finish out the season at 4-2 for an overall record of 10-6, good enough for second place in the AFC North while just missing out on a playoff spot. It was the club’s first winning record in five years. The defeat seemed back-breaking for the Ravens, who failed to win again until the season finale. The resulting 5-11 record was the worst since 1996 and marked the end of Brian Billick’s tenure as head coach. Fortunes would subsequently reverse for both clubs.

In his ninth year with the Browns, Phil Dawson was successful on 26 of 30 field goal attempts (86.7 %) – with likely no others as memorable as the barely-successful game-tying kick at Baltimore.