ST. LOUIS — Josh Brown is unaccustomed to missing at any distance.
The St. Louis kicker entered the year with one of the most accurate legs in the game, making 81 percent of his field-goal tries with seven career game-winners. Entering the season finale Sunday against San Francisco, he has connected on 19 of 26 opportunities this season, a 73-percent success rate that is his lowest in six seasons and the worst in the NFL this year.
The NFL's lowest-scoring offense averages just 11 points, meaning Brown has fewer chances to kick. But he has missed three of five attempts the last two games alone.
Even though there's been no perceived lack of effort, Brown believes the Rams' 2-13 record has taken its toll and criticized himself for perhaps not being mentally alert enough.
"Oh yeah, absolutely, it wears you down man," Brown said. "It's hard, and it's your responsibility to stay up."
Brown believes lack of focus may have been the problem on his biggest miss last week, a virtual chip-shot 33-yarder in a 27-0 loss at Pittsburgh. Combined with a 52-yard miss, it cost the Rams a chance to make it a 13-6 game.
"Lack of focus, because the ball went perfectly straight, perfectly right down the hash, not where I wanted it to go," Brown said. "Just didn't go through the ball completely, the speed was slow. Just a very disappointing moment. Just let one get away."
The 33-yarder was wide right. The 52-yarder had plenty of distance but was wide left.
"I'm like, 'Are you kidding? Are you kidding?'" Brown said. "You have to simply forget and try to move on, try to stay motivated this week to do everything right. It's sad for a nine-year veteran to have that happen."
Last year, Brown was an 85-percent kicker, going 33 for 39. This is the first year of his career he doesn't have one 50 yards or better, failing to add to his impressive total of 25, although he has had only two chances.
The 32-year-old Brown has one season left on a five-year, $14.2 million contract he signed on the first day of free agency in 2008 as the replacement for the retired Jeff Wilkins.
If the Rams know why Brown is struggling, they're not saying.
Special teams coach Tom McMahon went on the defensive, saying corrections are made on a weekly basis and an assessment would be made after the season. When asked specifically about the 33-yard whiff against Pittsburgh, McMahon said only that Brown needs to make that kick, and the 52-yarder, too.
"It's one of those things where he's a pro, he's going to correct that, and that's what he's been doing this week," McMahon said. "It had nothing to do with operation, it's a miss."
Was it a technique mistake?
"It's just a miss. I'm not going to get into details of why he missed it or how," McMahon said. "It's not what you do. Next question."
Brown is hoping for a big finale to lessen the bad taste: "I'd love to have three, four or five. I'd like a lot of business."