Stover at home between uprights

Raven eyes share of field-goal record

Pro Football

October 10, 2001|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

Things are to the point for Ravens kicker Matt Stover where the successful completion of his job is all but assumed.

"People figure I'm going to make [field goals], and that's a good feeling," Stover said.

It's a deserved reputation. Stover has made at least one field goal in 30 straight games for the Ravens, one shy of the NFL record held by Fred Cox.

If he records a field goal Sunday in Green Bay, he will have the opportunity to break the mark in Cleveland, where he spent five years of his career.

"What it really shows is what your team has done for you," Stover said. "They have to get me in field-goal position for me to kick a field goal. It also shows what [holder] Kyle Richardson, [snapper] Joe Maese, [ex-snapper] Frank Wainright and [ex-snapper] John Hudson have done, too.

"Because without those guys, you can't even get the opportunity. It shows the team has a lot of faith in me, also. That's really the gratifying thing about it.

"Just the fact that you get a field goal in every game for that many times in a row, that's a neat accomplishment, yeah, as an individual, but from a team's perspective, that means we're putting points on the board."

Stover is coming off of his first Pro Bowl year, one in which he also won the Golden Foot award given by the media to the league's top kicker. He made 35 of 39 field-goal attempts and all 30 extra-point tries last season.

He was the Ravens' primary offensive weapon during a stretch of five games in which they failed to score a touchdown. He was responsible for 49 consecutive points.

With a revived offense, the Ravens are relying less on Stover this season, but that hasn't affected his accuracy. He has converted six of his first seven field-goal attempts, with the miss coming from 46 yards in the opener - all while working with a rookie snapper in Maese.

"A kicker can come in and make a difference in some games," Stover said. `To keep points on the board, that's what I'm about. The big thing that I have to continue to do is to be consistent with it. This team is a good team, as you can see, and I'm hoping that I'll have more of an opportunity to kick field goals as well as extra points."

The streak stretches back to an Oct. 31, 1999, home game against Buffalo. In nine of the 30 games, Stover converted his only chance.

Describing the hurdles in compiling such a streak, Ravens special teams coach Russ Purnell pointed out: "The opportunity doesn't always arise. Or maybe the field-goal attempt is into the wind or on a slippery field. But the biggest thing is the offense has put him in position to make field goals, and he's done his part."

For the Ravens, it could be the second straight week that one of their players puts himself in the record book. Sunday, it was tight end Shannon Sharpe, who broke Ozzie Newsome's all-time receiving yardage record for a tight end.

Another record would fall if safety Rod Woodson returns an interception for a touchdown for the 10th time.

"We got a few things going on when you have players of the veteran status like we do," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "Woodson with his 200th game. And Matt Stover, who has been at this awhile and is deserving of the recognition he's getting.

"Matt and I have a good relationship - everybody knows the first year was a little rocky to start. We have a good understanding of one another as to what the limitations are. To have he and Kyle are huge."

NOTES: The NFL officially suspended Ravens right tackle Leon Searcy without pay for Sunday's game in Green Bay, citing him for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy.

Searcy was accused of kicking his wife, Sonya, in her leg during a dispute in their Orlando, Fla. home last May. The case did not go to trial and was diverted to a pretrial intervention program.

Searcy, recovering from a torn triceps suffered during training camp, was already scheduled to miss the Packers game. He is hoping to return from the injury for the Oct. 21 game in Cleveland, though the suspension will prohibit him from using the training facility this week.

"He has to physically rehab away from the facility," Billick said. "We wanted to get him on the field doing some things this week, so it's unfortunate, but not something we can't overcome."

The Ravens awarded game balls for Sunday's win over Tennessee to Travis Taylor (offense), Michael McCrary (defense) and James Trapp (special teams).

Next for Ravens

Opponent: Green Bay Packers

Site: Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wis.

When: Sunday, 1 p.m.

TV/Radio: Ch. 13/WJFK (1300 AM), WQSR (102.7 FM)

Line: Even

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