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Cleveland’s Matt Bahr Hopes the Raider Game Not Decided by Kickers

Associated Press

Placekicker Matt Bahr is hoping the Cleveland Browns’ game today against the Los Angeles Raiders doesn’t become a kicking duel.

Bahr’s older brother, Chris, is the Raiders’ kicker.

“Chris and I are three years apart and we’ve never really had to compete directly against each other for anything,” Bahr said. “So there really is not the sibling rivalry there. And we’ve always said we hope it doesn’t come down to a last-second field goal on either part, simply because we wouldn’t want to be put in a position of rooting against family.”

Bahr would prefer a game in which the kickers are unimportant.

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“I’m hoping we’re up by three or four touchdowns and then I can root for Chris to make his field goals and he can root for me,” he said.

The game will be only Bahr’s second for the Browns since he returned from a knee injury he suffered while making a tackle on a kickoff in November of 1986.

Bahr made five extra points and a short field goal in last Sunday’s 38-24 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.

“It was a strange sensation. It was like deja vu,” Bahr said. “It just seemed like another game, but I knew it had been a long time. But standing there, knowing in my mind that I was not on a field for over a year, it seemed like I was just here last week standing on the sidelines.”

The Browns, because of Bahr’s injury last year, drafted kicker Jeff Jaeger of Washington in the third round of the 1987 draft. He started strong this season, but was dropped to the inactive list last week because of a slump that included a missed 38-yarder in a 9-7 loss to Indianapolis on Dec. 6.

“My biggest concern had always been to rehabilitate fully,” Bahr said. “I always felt the best I could do for the team was to be fully healthy when I came back. Like any injured player, when I was just about healthy, they said, ‘Why don’t you put pads on and work out?’ And when Jeff had his troubles, they said, ‘Why don’t you try it?”’

Bahr isn’t yet being used on kickoffs. They’re being handled by newly acquired punter Lee Johnson, partly because of concerns that Bahr could hurt the knee again during kickoff coverage.

“I’ve had no concern about diving in there,” Bahr said. “To me, that’s the fun part of the game, sticking your nose in there.”

Bahr, 31, whose 27-yard field goal against Cincinnati was his 100th for the Browns and the 139th of his nine-year career, said he tried to remain confident throughout his rehabilitation that he would get a chance to win his old job back.

“I guess everybody has doubts,” he said. “All I wanted was just a fair chance to compete. I felt that the rehab was going such that I knew that I could kick in this league again. (Coach) Marty (Schottenheimer) has always told me that I would get a chance to compete for a job here.”


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