CLEVELAND— Phil Dawson made his first return visit on an opposing team since he left the Browns after the 2013 season as a free agent.
“Pretty special day,” Dawson said outside the locker room after the game. “It was a struggle all week to stay on point. I was half-able to do that today but on behalf of myself and my family, I just have to thank the Browns for that tribute and the fans for the response.
“I don’t think I have words to express how thankful I am for that,” he said. “Very special day and very difficult to stay with my normal routine because of all the emotions and all the well wishes that were there at every turn. Obviously, I wanted a different result for my team and very much wanted to accomplish that. Just a special day otherwise. Pretty hard to stay in the old boring routine that I use each and every week and have used for 18 years. I wanted to let it in but I also wanted to play well. Finding that balance was the struggle.”
Dawson, along with his wife Shannon, said they were very appreciative of the tribute.
“I patted my heart,” he said. “All week, the lead-up has been tremendous. The love and support from those in the stadium today was very nice to experience and it’ll be something that I’ll always remember.”
Dawson, 40, said he knows he’ll appreciate it more when he stops playing the game.
“I don’t know but I know what it means to me,” he said. “When I’m an old man and my memory’s starting to fade, I just hope the good Lord allows me to always hold on to this one because this is one of the rare ones.”
Dawson was honored by the Browns for his play in Cleveland from 1999-2013 with a video tribute in the first quarter. Dawson kicked a 44-yard field goal with 4:12 left in the first half to give San Francisco their first points, which was set up by a punt return by Bruce Ellington. He added an extra point, as well.