CINCINNATI (AP) — Light rain had just ended when Josh Brown lined up for a 52-yard field goal try in the third quarter, the game on the line. For the last three months, he'd hoped for this test.
Made it with room to spare.
Brown connected on all four of his field goal tries for the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, including that 52-yarder in the third quarter of a 20-19 loss to Dallas. The Cowboys won it with a field goal of their own as time ran out.
For Brown, it was a solid first step in trying to show the rest of the NFL that he's not finished.
"It's a positive note," Brown said. "It just reassures you that you're not done playing yet. To be able to bang out a 52-yarder and to do it with confidence — it's all reassuring that I'm moving on the right path to getting back in the NFL."
The 4-for-4 performance just might jump-start his career, even if it turns out to be his only game with Cincinnati.
The Bengals needed a kicker on short notice when Mike Nugent hurt his right calf during practice last week. They brought in several kickers for a tryout, and Brown won them over with his consistency.
He'd been trying to get another chance since the Jets released him at the end of training camp, keeping his leg in shape by kicking three times a week on the West Coast. There was a lot of pressure on him Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium — the Bengals (7-6) are in the thick of the AFC wild card chase.
Brown was good from 25, 33, 25 and 52 yards, bailing out an offense that stalled near the goal line. If Cincinnati would have held on at the end, Brown would have been their MVP for the day.
One very good day helped his career outlook.
"In a ton of ways," Brown said. "You get released from one job, you don't make the team with the Jets for certain reasons, then you're just reassuring people that OK, he can still play, he can still kick off. Thirty-three is not old for a kicker. I feel I've still got seven or eight years left in me."
Brown was Seattle's seventh-round draft pick out of Nebraska in 2003. He played five years with Seattle and four with St. Louis, making 220 field goals in 272 attempts (80.9 percent). When the Jets let him go, he learned what it's like to be a kicker trying to get back into the league.
His wife runs a business in Seattle, so he took care of their three children while kicking as much as he could.
"I went home and just stuck to the plan of kicking three days a week — Friday, Sunday, Tuesday — wherever I could find room," Brown said. "High school fields, parks."
He'd fly to San Diego and work out with other kickers, trying to stay sharp for when the call finally came. It was a big adjustment.
"I played nine straight years, so I never had to deal with it," Brown said. "Now I do. The more games I get in this year, the more it's going to help me to try to get on a roster in February and keep moving forward."
It's unclear how long he'll be in Cincinnati. Coach Marvin Lewis was noncommittal about whether Nugent would be healthy enough to kick during a game on Thursday night in Philadelphia. Brown knows that in any case, he won't be around for very long.
By making the most of his chance, he's hoping to get another one next season with some team.
"It's important to me, especially going into next year," he said. "This really helps."
NOTES: Nugent didn't participate in practice for the second straight day Tuesday. ... DE Michael Johnson (toe) and RB Cedric Peerman (ankle) also sat out for the second day in a row. .. CB Dre Kirkpatrick was held out of practice after going through a full workout on Monday. He missed Sunday's game against the Cowboys while recovering from a concussion. ... LB Rey Maualuga (shoulder, knee) and LB Vontaze Burfict (shoulder) were limited in practice.