Stover making kicks, history


November 10, 2006|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,Sun reporter

Five years after setting his first NFL record, Ravens kicker Matt Stover is closing in on another one.

With four field goals Sunday, Stover increased his consecutive field-goals mark to 34, moving him into third on the NFL's all-time list. He needs to convert his next nine tries to surpass Mike Vanderjagt (who hit 42 straight field goals from 2002 to 2004) for a league record.

"All it takes is one miss and it's over," Stover said. "My key is just to make the next kick. I've been around long enough, they forget about records so fast. What really matters is me giving this team the best opportunity to win games."

Stover, 38, hasn't missed a field goal since Oct. 31, 2005. He is currently the third-most accurate kicker in NFL history, making 83 percent of his career kicks.

His consistency has caused a lot of his teammates to take him for granted.

"I find myself thinking in the huddle, `We're on the 30-yard line. All we have to do is not screw up because we've got three points in our pocket,'" tight end Todd Heap said. "He is so automatic."

Stover first put his name in NFL history in 2001. He broke a 31-year-old league mark by making a field goal in 38 straight games.

There is a sense of accomplishment that comes with a record, Stover said.

"That means you had a lot of games where you kicked a field goal and I like being used," Stover said. "As an athlete, who doesn't want the ball? I just do it quietly."

Scoring big

Though the Ravens' defense has been giving up big plays, it has delivered them as well.

The Ravens have scored 18 defensive touchdowns since 2003, five more than any other team during that span. The defense has scored four touchdowns this season, including three in the past two games.

Coach Brian Billick said it's not a fluke because his players focus on it.

"The way we kind of hand off and pitch back drives me nuts, and I'm dog-cussing them the whole time - right up to the point they get into the end zone," Billick said. "We seem to be good at it."

End zone

Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis (back) missed his second straight practice, but it still seems he'll be ready to start Sunday. "He's getting better," Billick said. Safety Ed Reed (neck), who did not practice Wednesday, participated in drills yesterday. ... The Ravens, who are 3-1 on the road this season, haven't won four games away from home since 2001. ... There are 14 former Pro Bowl players on the Ravens, which ties them with the St. Louis Rams for the most on any roster this season. ... In Billick's eight seasons, the Ravens are not only 43-1 when leading by at least 14 points but also 50-7 when leading at halftime.

Aim is true

Matt Stover has connected on 34 straight field goals, the third-longest streak in NFL history and nine short of breaking the all-time mark. A look at the three longest field-goal streaks in NFL history:

Kicker, Team(s) ................................................... Years Streak

Mike Vanderjagt, Ind. .................................... 2002-2004 42

Gary Anderson, S.F.-Min. .............................1997-1998 40

Matt Stover, Ravens ......................................2005-2006 34

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