To continue our celebration of the franchise's 75th anniversary, we're launching "Browns Countdown: Top 75 Moments" presented by Bridgestone. Over the next month, through videos, articles and more, we'll be highlighting the top 75 moments in Browns history. Our video tributes, which will be available at ClevelandBrowns.com, the Browns' mobile app and the Browns' official YouTube Channel, will dive deep into the top 20 while our articles will put the spotlight on a number of different moments that are sprinkled throughout the top 75.
We're moving down to No. 70, which provides us with one of the best snowy memories in Browns history.
The first thing Phil Dawson needed to do when he stepped onto the football field at any point on Dec. 19, 2007, was feverishly sweep his feet until he saw grass beneath him.
The snow around Dawson was thick, powdery and detrimental to his ability to do his job: kick a football. Cleveland's Week 15 game at Browns Stadium became a kicker's nightmare 90 minutes before kickoff when blizzard-like conditions blanketed the city, instantly piling snow onto the field and setting the scene for an unforgettable afternoon of football.
Dawson's leg and snow-sweeping abilities were required for two field goals, and both kicks — the first from 35 yards and the second from 49 yards — were to be attempted through 40 mph wind gusts, making them some of the hardest kicks Dawson had ever attempted.
"I would have to say in my nine years here that was by far the most difficult day to kick a football," he said in his postgame interview. "Had there been no snow at all, it would've been in the top five just because of the way the wind was blowing."
But Dawson still got the job done.
Both kicks were good. The first one started right and veered left to cross the uprights. The second started left and clipped back to the right with just enough speed for another three points.
The two kicks helped lead the Browns to an unforgettable 8-0 win against the Buffalo Bills to give them their ninth win of the 2007 season. Dawson's kicks — as well as the other plays that helped the Browns grab their first shutout since 2005 and third since returning to Cleveland as an expansion team in 1999 — cemented the win as one of the most memorable in franchise history.
But the scenes of players trudging through the thick snow and workers using snow blowers to clear yardage markers encapsulated what most people picture when they visualize winter football in Cleveland — cold, windy and unpredictable.
"When you're a kid, you dream of playing in a game like this," said Browns wide receiver Joe Jurevicius, a Cleveland native, in a postgame interview. "Today was the Turkey Bowl or the Christmas Bowl in the backyard when you're wiping snow out of your eyes."
Players slipped and slid through the snow and ball carriers struggled to advance near-untraceable distances up the field — yardage lines were covered for most of the game, and officials frequently struggled to identify yard markers.
Amazingly, no turnovers were made by either team, but the other two Cleveland points were awarded after Bills punter Brian Moorman kicked a botched snap out of the end zone for a safety to avoid the Browns possibly recovering the ball for a touchdown.
Dawson, however, was unfazed, and so was Browns running back Jamal Lewis. He amassed 163 rushing yards on 33 carries and plowed his own way through the snow after dodging tackle attempts from Bills defenders.
"He was perfect for this kind of weather," Browns rookie tackle Joe Thomas said after the game. "He kept his shoulders north and south, put his head down and just knocked guys over. He carried the pile."
The significance of the win extended beyond the wintry elements of the afternoon, too. The Browns clinched their second winning season in the franchise's expansion era and first since 2002, which moved them into a tie for first in the AFC North with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
To get there, though, the Browns needed their kicker to persevere through one the toughest days of his career.
"I wasn't even thinking about anything," he said about the kicks in a 2019 interview with Jay Crawford. "My mind was all over the place, but I had trained my body what it needed to do.
"Even though my mind was not in a great place, autopilot kicked in, and the ball went right down the middle."
Earlier this year, the Browns commissioned a panel of historians, alumni and journalists to rank the top 75 moments in Browns history. The group met multiple times to discuss the moments and each member submitted their own final rankings, which were averaged against each other to create the ultimate list.
Building the Top 75 from the bottom up
68. Browns' fans create numerous music ballads that are played on Cleveland radio to celebrate the teams resurgence in the late 1980s. Songs include "Oh Bernie Bernie," "Super Bowl Browns" and "Born and Raised on the Browns."
69. Browns defeat the Jacksonville Jaguars, 21-20, on Dec. 8, 2002 with a 50-yard Hail Mary from Tim Couch to Quincy Morgan with no time left. Couch becomes the only quarterback to have two game-winning passes of 50 yards or more with no time left on the clock.
70. Browns defeat the Buffalo Bills 8-0 in a blizzard and clinch a winning record on Dec. 16, 2007. Phil Dawson kicks two field goals and the Browns record a safety.
72. Browns clinch an Eastern Conference title by crushing the New York Giants 52-20 on Dec. 12, 1964.
73. Browns move into first place of the AFC Central Division after defeating the Houston Oilers on Dec. 15, 1985. The Browns would go on to win the AFC Central for the first time since 1980
74. Jeff Garcia and Andre Davis combine to tie the NFL record for the longest pass in NFL history of 99 yards in a Cleveland Browns 34-17 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on Oct. 17, 2004.