After all the days of film study, all the hours spent poring over the installation, all the frenetic play calls over a three-hour stress test to get them in position …
He doesn’t actually watch the kicks. Not live, anyway.
In this season of absurd, the Cleveland Browns are getting fairly excellent at the theater and drama component of NFL life. Three of their games now — all wins — have come down to last-second kicks.
Kevin Stefanski hasn’t watched one of them.
When rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson drove the Browns into field goal range against the Steelers at the end Sunday, when Kareem Hunt ran it on second down, when Thompson-Robinson clocked it and the Steelers burned their final timeout with five seconds left, there was nothing left for Stefanski to do.
He turned his back to the field and walked 30 yards in the other direction, blew on his hands and rubbed them together on a crisp fall afternoon. He asked John Frain, the team’s security director, for a drink. By the time Frain returned with a Gatorade cup, Stefanski had snagged a water bottle instead. So Frain took a sip and kept the cup for himself. As play resumed and the Browns lined up for the kick, Stefanski again turned his back to the play. Given the angle from the sidelines, sometimes it’s difficult to tell if kicks are good or not. He likes watching the television angle from behind the uprights, so he turns to the scoreboard opposite of the play.
As Dustin Hopkins’ 34-yarder sailed through for a 13-10 Browns victory, Stefanski put one finger in the air. That was the extent of his celebration. It’s part of his appeal.
Another divisional opponent toppled, this time a bitter rival. Another win. Another step closer to the postseason.
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