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Newest Bengal also one of hottest heading into the playoffs

When December began, kicker Josh Brown was unemployed and wondering when – or if – he would get another chance with an NFL team. On Thursday, Brown was named the AFC Special Teams Player of the Month.

“It’s very odd now that I think about it,” said Brown, who signed a free-agent contract with the Cincinnati Bengals on Dec. 6, one day after Mike Nugent injured his right calf while practicing onside kicks.

“I guess it is a little surprising,” added the 33-year-old veteran who is in his 10th season and will be kicking in his 10th playoff game Saturday when the Bengals travel to Houston to face the Texans in a Wild Card matchup.

Brown has made all eight of his extra points and 11 of 12 field goals since joining the Bengals, with his only miss being a 56-yarder at Pittsburgh that would have been the longest in the history of Heinz Field. A few minutes after the miss, Brown kicked a 43-yarder with four seconds remaining to beat the Steelers 13-10 and send Cincinnati into the playoffs.

“It’s been a very fast process,” said Brown, who spent his first five seasons in Seattle and the previous four with St. Louis before being cut by the New York Jets this preseason. “Things have gone well, and that’s what we want to continue. It’s weird to know how to feel. I don’t want to over-think this. I just want to continue to move, continue to do what I’ve been doing and continue to work hard.”

Brown could end up being a key player Saturday in a game that is expected to be close and low-scoring. His nine career playoff games are more than any other player on the team, and he has an impressive track record in the postseason, having made 16 of 19 field goals and 21 of 21 extra points.

Two of his misses came in Super Bowl XL from 50 and 54 yards, and the other was a 49-yarder in the NFC Championship game against Carolina two weeks earlier.

“The postseason is about staying healthy and finding ways to win,” Brown said. “Get your body ready to go, because once sixth gear kicks in, you better be ready. It’s a battle. It’s one and done. You’ve got to win four in a row to make it to victory lane. That’s the goal.”

Brown’s success rate of 91.7 percent this year is second only to the 92 percent (23 of 25) he posted with Seattle in 2004, his second year in the league. Sunday against Baltimore he topped the 1,000-point milestone.

“I think that means I’m about 1,600 away from being the all-time leading scorer,” joked Brown, whose total stands at 1,003. “It feels great to be able to do it, and do it here and help this team keep going.”

Brown said he thinks there are a lot more left in his right leg and hopes the Bengals or another team will give him a chance in 2013.

“I’ve gained something by the opportunity of being here, but I haven’t got where I want to be yet,” Brown said. “I don’t have a contract. I don’t have a full-season run. And that’s what I want next year. So I’ve still got personal goals to achieve, and I’ve got to help the team out by achieving those goals.”

His player of the month award help the Bengals set a franchise record with seven individual honors this year, topping the previous mark of six set in both the 1988 and 1989 seasons.

Defensive tackle Geno Atkins (Week 16) and defensive ends Carlos Dunlap (Week 13) and Michael Johnson (Week 3) have earned Defensive Player of the Week honors. Quarterback Andy Dalton (Week 10) won Offensive Player of the Week. Adam Jones (Week 2) was named Special Teams Player of the Week. And wide receiver A.J. Green was Offensive Player of the Month in September.

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