Browns kicker Dustin Hopkins nearing franchise record set in 1964

Dec. 18—Dustin Hopkins is in the process of kicking through some impressive franchise records as he helps kick the Browns into the playoffs this season.

One of the records about to fall has stood for almost 60 years.

Hopkins has kicked four game-winning field goals for the 9-5 Browns, and that doesn't include the 55-yarder he kicked against the Jaguars on Dec. 3 for a 31-21 lead with 3:15 remaining. It turned out the Browns needed that kick because the Jaguars scored a touchdown with 1:33 to play.

All this from a guy acquired Aug. 28 for a 2025 seventh-round pick in a trade with the Chargers.

"Dustin coming through, the protection coming through, the operation coming through," Stefanski said in a Zoom call Dec. 18, a day after Hopkins' 34-yard field goal with 32 seconds remaining gave the Browns a 20-17 victory over the Bears. "So proud of the guys."

—Hopkins is 33 of 36 on field-goal tries. The 33 is a franchise record. Phil Dawson set the previous record of 30 in 2008.

—Hopkins is 22 of 24 on PATs. His 121 total points are only five shy of the franchise record set when Jim Brown scored 21 touchdowns in the 10-3-1 1964 championship season.

Dustin Hopkins is remarkable for more than the way he kicks a football. He chuckled when told fans regard him as a hero for kicking four game-winners. There might be more opportunities in the weeks and playoffs ahead.

"I'm very thankful for the fans," Hopkins said in the victorious locker room Dec. 17. "They make the game so much richer than if we were just out there on a field by ourselves, so I'm very thankful to them. But at the same time, I try to not put too much stock in what others think.

"If I put my best foot forward, I try to glorify the Lord in whatever skill set I've been given and try to hone in on it. If I did my best, that's all I can ask. I can look myself in the mirror at the end of the day, positive or negative, and be really happy.

"Happiness and sadness are kind of fleeting, but joy never leaves. So, ultimately, a victory or defeat never compares to the greatness of knowing Jesus Christ."

Hopkins kicked seven seasons with Washington and parts of two seasons with the Chargers before being acquired by the Browns at the end of August. He was 15 of 30 from 50 yards and beyond in his previous two stops. He is 8-for-8 from 50 yards and beyond with the Browns.

Hopkins' years of experience turned out to be very important to the Browns beating the Bears.

Chicago won the coin toss to start the game and deferred. Since the Bears would get the ball first in the third quarter, the Browns had the choice of which direction to kick. Kicking toward the Dawg Pound is notoriously difficult, but Hopkins figured because of the weather conditions it would be easier to kick in that direction in the fourth quarter.

The decision paid off. Hopkins made his kick over the crossbar in the east end zone to break a 17-17 tie.

On the first play of the fourth quarter, the Bears had the ball fourth-and-1 at the Cleveland 33, leading 17-7. Rather than attempt a 51-yard field goal kicking to the west end zone, Coach Matt Eberflus elected to go for it. Rookie cornerback Cameron Mitchell sacked Justin Fields for no gain.