Abundance of field goals good for Brown, bad for offense

Sunday, December 26, 2010
Rams kicker Josh Brown ranks sixth in the NFL with 108 points scored this season. (ROSS FRANKLIN ~ Associated Press)

St. Louis' kicker has converted 3 of 4 from at least 50 yards

ST. LOUIS -- Kicker Josh Brown is likely to end the season with the second-highest scoring total of his career.

However, what's good for him is bad for the St. Louis Rams' offense.

Brown is sixth in the NFL with 108 points entering this week, a 25-point improvement over last season when the Rams were last in the NFL in scoring. He's 28 for 34, including two kicks that were blocked. The 82 percent accuracy is a 1 percent increase over his career mark entering the season.

And he's 3 for 4 beyond 50 yards.

"If you're locked in 100 percent, I don't think I should ever miss. Period," Brown said Thursday. "I don't think there's a guy that can kick field goals as long and as accurate in the league.

"Minus the two blocks, I'm right there knocking on the door at 90 percent."

The trouble is that the Rams (6-8) have been leaning too much on Brown's booming kicks. They've totaled eight field goals, including four at Arizona, but only one touchdown per game over the last four games.

"It's good if you're winning games," Brown said. "It's just a hard way to win in December, a hard way to win in the playoffs."

Brown also finished 28 for 34 when he scored a career-best 127 points for Seattle in 2007, including a pair of game-winning field goals to beat the Rams. That year he kicked 43 extra points, and this year he's 24 for 25.

Out of three promising opening drives in last week's loss to the Chiefs, the Rams settled for field goals of 37 and 52 yards plus a punt for an unimpressive 6-0 first-quarter lead that didn't stand up for long.

"We do such a good job getting the ball down there, but once we get there, we start to have hiccups," Rams running back Steven Jackson said. "We know how important it is to jump on a team, especially the chances against Kansas City.

"If you go up 14-0, I believe it's a different ballgame. I believe it puts them in catchup mode."

Brown has been called upon far too often for chip shots, going 9 for 10 inside the 30. The lone miss came on a blocked kick against the Redskins in Week 3.

"Great for me, fantastic for me," Brown said. "But if you're not winning, it's a horrible, horrible thing."

The Rams get a do-over with playoff implications today against the 49ers, and Jackson wants the team to put the load on him.

"These kinds of games, these kinds of pressure situations are what I live for," Jackson said. "It's something that I thrive in, I believe. When it comes to these situations, let's go back to the old Steven.

"I think the best player should have the ball."

More carries from Jackson would ease the burden on rookie quarterback Sam Bradford, who has thrown five interceptions and no touchdown passes in the last three games. Not that he's fixated on ending the 49ers' streak of 20 straight games without allowing a 100-yard game.

"It's not so much about numbers," Jackson said. "Sometimes just your presence on the field does a lot for your teammates. I've come to understand that."

The Rams got one player back and lost one in practice Thursday. Defensive end Chris Long returned after missing a day with a thigh bruise, but offensive tackle Jason Smith rolled his left ankle.

Tight end Mike Hoomanawanui did not practice a day after aggravating a high ankle sprain Wednesday.

Long said he's been fine since the swelling subsided.

"It shouldn't be anything like this that should keep me out of any game, especially in a situation like this," Long said. "These are the most important games you've got so you can't save up for anything."

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