There are great plays, great moments and then there’s just pure luck.
That’s what happened the afternoon of November 18th, 2007, M&T Bank Stadium being the site. The 5-4 Cleveland Browns led by quarterback Derek Anderson trudged into Baltimore to face off against the 4-5 Ravens. It was a divisional matchup that actually had playoff implications on the line for both teams. The Browns were trying to reach the postseason for the first time since the 2002 season, and Baltimore was looking for its second consecutive birth, losing to Indianapolis the previous year.
The first quarter was rather boring as a Phil Dawson field goal gave the Browns the early 3-0 edge. In the second quarter, Cleveland was able to drive 80 yards down the field for a one yard Jamal Lewis touchdown run.
10-0 lead on the road in Baltimore, not too shabby.
Well, hold your horses. The great murderer, I mean hall-of-famer Ray Lewis intercepted one of Derek Anderson’s passes and took it to the house to get Baltimore on the board, 10-7. A Browns field goal from 39 yards out gave the good guys a 13-7 lead at the half.
The third quarter started out with a Willis McGahee two yard touchdown run for the Ravens. Hey, I guess at one point he really did have the ability to carry the ball into the end zone. That made the score 14-13, the Ravens leading by a single point.
A shortened field gave the Browns an easy touchdown on a one yard run up the gut by Derek Anderson. That put a bandaid over the wound, and made the score 20-14 with the Browns being back on top.
Baltimore quarterback Kyle Boller’s pass intended for Derek Mason was INTERCEPTED by the Browns’ Brodney Pool. He dashed all the way back for a touchdown as Cleveland fans roared….HE…COULD…GO…ALL…THE…WAY…TOUCHDOWN!!! 27-14!!!
In the fourth quarter, Baltimore struck back with two field goals, one from 34 yards out and one from 41 to make the score 27-20. Then, Boller tossed a 27 yard touchdown to Devard Darling to make us dead even at 27 with 3:31 to go.
The Browns ensuing drive stalled, giving Baltimore a chance to take the lead with just minutes to go. The Ravens did just that on yet another field goal by Matt Stover pushing the Ravens to a 30-27 advantage.
But oh boy were things about to get crazy.
With 26 seconds to go the Browns started on their own 43 yard line. Anderson’s first pass was a short one out to the right for receiver Joe Jurevicius for six yards. Next, Anderson connected with Braylon Edwards for 18 yards deep down the middle. The ball was quickly spiked with three seconds remaining. There was still time on the clock!
A 51 yard kick for the tie….this was going to take a miracle.
Snap is down, kick is up, end over end and it is…..the ball bangs of the left upright and deflects off of the back extension of the field goal post back onto the field of play.
Stunning finish. I was nothing more than a little boy at the time, and I could remember feeling cheated by how close that kick was. I think I cried, but I know for a fact that I was angry. To be close is one thing, but to be that close was just insane.
After my brief meltdown, referee Pete Morelli met with the other officials to discuss the play. They said that they could have sworn the ball went OVER the crossbar, and then bounced back via the extension. Thus, THE KICK WAS GOOD!
In what is remembered as the craziest field goal try in recent memory, the Browns were alive and would go on to win the game in overtime on a clean Phil Dawson kick. 33-30 was the final from Baltimore, your Browns a winner.
Rarely is luck on our side, but on that November afternoon we got it. While the Browns just missed the playoffs that year, it was one I’ll always remember. Who knows, maybe this year we can finally reach those beloved playoffs!
Phil Dawson will always be remembered as one of my favorite Browns of all-time.