Red zone blues get boot from hot Hollis Streaking kicker hits five more to drive Jaguars, stuck at goal line detour

December 01, 1997|By Peter Zellen | Peter Zellen,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Despite scoring 29 points in yesterday's victory, the Jacksonville Jaguars are still beleaguered by an offense that seems to come to a halt once it's inside the 20-yard line.

But it's those red zone difficulties that are making a hero out of kicker Mike Hollis, who notched a career-high 17 points and hit five field goals from varying distances.

"Mike stepped up and did an excellent job," said tight end Rich Griffith, who is also Jacksonville's long snapper. "It doesn't matter what weather we're in or the amount of pressure he's under. He steps up, he's very calm and he does an excellent job. Now we don't want to settle for three points, we want the seven -- but when we need him, he's there."

On a third-and-11 from the Ravens' 19, Jacksonville's Mark Brunell was sacked by Kim Herring -- dropping the Jaguars back to the 23. In came Hollis for a 41-yard field goal in the first quarter.

Then in the second quarter, the Jaguars had a first down at the Baltimore 25. After gaining just 1 yard over the next three plays, in came Hollis again, this time for a 42-yarder.

He would do the same three more times, kicking field goals of 31, 29 and 22 yards as the Jaguars notched just one touchdown in five trips to the red zone. Before settling for Hollis' last three field goals, Jacksonville had gotten as far as the Baltimore 13-, 11- and 4-yard line.

It's a precarious situation for Hollis. His job is to produce field goals and kick off, the team's job is to score touchdowns. The only preferred time to see Hollis would be on a point-after attempt. Hollis would love to come in and kick every time, but it probably won't translate into a lot of Jaguars victories. When addressing this question, the third-year player out of Idaho becomes very diplomatic.

"Depending on what the score is at the time -- we do need seven points all the time -- I'm just happy to contribute to a victory this close," Hollis said.

It's the second time in his career that Hollis has kicked five field goals. He did it almost one year ago to the day when he hit five in a 30-27 win over Cincinnati last Dec. 1. Yesterday's field goals also gave him 16 in a row, the longest streak Hollis had ever had -- including high school and college. The last time Hollis missed one was a 27-yarder against the Bengals on Oct. 5.

"I'm just kicking well; I guess I'm in a groove," Hollis said. "When you start kicking well, you get confident and you approach every kick like you're going to make it and that's what the successful kickers in the league do."

This season, Hollis has been successful on 27 of his 31 field-goal attempts, continuing his steady improvement. As a rookie in 1995, Hollis hit 20 of 27. Last year, he converted 30 of 36 field-goal attempts. With Jacksonville's offensive struggles, the performance has made coach Tom Coughlin happy.

"I'm not complaining -- as long as you win and come away with points in those situations, that's the key," Coughlin said. "As I look at each aspect of our team, that red zone area is only one stat compared to a lot of other good solid stats.

"You're not going to have everything perfect and we don't. Mike Hollis stepped up and converted for us. He's very consistent and we're thankful for that."

Stalled

The Jaguars settled for field goals four times after entering the red zone yesterday. Where the drives stalled and how:

Ravens' 19: Brunell sacked for minus-4 yards on 3rd-and-11.

Ravens' 3: Incomplete pass on 2nd-and-1 with : 06 left in half.

Ravens' 11: Two incomplete passes and one rush for no gain.

Ravens' 6: 2-yard pass on 3rd-and-goal.

Pub Date: 12/01/97

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