Trailing 26-24, the Browns moved 69 yards in 61 seconds to set up a 40-yard field goal try with three seconds left. Snap. Kick. Good. Browns win?
The Raiders’ field is a relic, a gridiron painted on a baseball diamond.
Press box TV sets played the baseball game while football captains walked out for Sunday’s coin toss on the dirt where second base would be.
At that moment, on TV, the Indians clinched a division title against Oakland back in Cleveland.
Three hours later, Phil Dawson lined up on the A’s infield with a chance to make it a grand slam of an autumn Sunday for Northeast Ohio.
Trailing 26-24, the Browns moved 69 yards in 61 seconds to set up a 40-yard field goal try with three seconds left.
Snap. Kick. Good. Browns win?
“I didn’t hear the whistle,” Dawson said. “I thought we had won the game.”
Leigh Bodden, Kellen Winslow Jr. and Braylon Edwards watched the kick together on the Browns’ sideline.
“We were talking on it, praying on it, holding hands,” Edwards said.
Added Bodden, “I saw the ball go through the uprights. I thought we won.”
Except Oakland Head Coach Lane Kiffin foiled the Browns exactly the way he had been ruined by Denver’s Mike Shanahan a week earlier.
Kiffin called a timeout just before the snap. Dawson’s kick was a dead ball.
On the re-kick, 6-foot-6 Tommy Kelly swatted the ball backward to preserve Oakland’s win.
A week earlier at Denver, Oakland’s Sebastian Janikowski made a 52-yard field goal to give the Raiders an apparent 23-20 win. But Shanahan had sneaked in a timeout.
Janikowski missed the re-kick, and the Broncos went on to win.
“Oh, yeah, this one was for Mike,” Kiffin said. “Thanks, Mike.”
Dawson’s holder was Scott Player, a replacement for injured Dave Zastudil, a cool, 37-year-old veteran.
“We practiced holds a lot all week,” Player said. “That didn’t have anything to do with it.”
Dawson hit the ball hard. It ricocheted backward almost 20 yards.
“From an operations standpoint, everything felt good,” Dawson said. “From that distance, kicking from the dirt wasn’t a factor at all.”
The block was the deciding factor.
Special teams ace Joshua Cribbs, who earlier returned a kickoff 99 yards, said there was “a little leak in the middle.”
Dawson went limp as the ball caromed backward. Player ran after it.
“It’s like a dire strait,” Player said. “You’re trying to get your hands on the ball ... not that I was gonna score anyway, but they ruled it dead.”
Three hours earlier, while the Indians celebrated, Dawson was on the infield for the coin flip. How did the football game’s final turnabout make him feel?
“There’s not even words.”
Reach Repository sports writer Steve Doerschuk at (330) 580-8347 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org