Dallas Cowboys kicker Brett Maher himself had a horrible game last week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers,
On each of the Cowboys’ first four touchdowns, Maher missed the extra point. He pushed the first two wide kicks to the right, then fired the third wide to the left. On the fourth kick, he hit the outside of the upright. He was the first kicker in NFL history to miss four extra runs in a playoff game. (He converted the extra point on Dallas’ fifth touchdown.)
Despite the lackluster performance, the Cowboys staunchly supported him throughout the week. Maher had 50 of 53 extra points during the regular season, as well as 29 of 32 on field goals.
“I’m Money Maher’s biggest fan,” said Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott said after team win on Tampa. “I spoke to him individually after the game, I just said, ‘Hey, forget it, we’re going to need it’. I just played like s — a week ago, so it happens. So I mean it happens. Knowing what this guy has done, with the resilience he’s shown throughout his career. Personally, there’s no doubt that he’ll come back, he’ll be perfect and he’ll will help us win.”
Maher also got vocal support from Mike McCarthy and CeeDee Lamb. Nevertheless, during the week before their division game against the San Francisco 49ers, the Cowboys signed kicker Tristan Vizcaino to the practice squad, to give them another option in place of Maher for Sunday night. But Dallas didn’t move Vizcaino to the active roster, so Maher will be their kicker.
And apparently he struggled during the warm-ups. And not just when it comes to whether or not he was kicking. The 49ers apparently didn’t appreciate Maher warming up on their side of the field, briefly interrupting his warm-up before finally allowing him to kick again.
Oh, and he also had trouble kicking. According to The Athletic, Maher missed at least four kicks early in his warm-up, pushing them all to the right.
Things apparently went so wrong (he missed two more shots) that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones entered the field during warm-ups to give Maher a pep talk. To put it mildly, this is very unusual, although Maher then went on to make his next three attempts.
Things did not calm down once the match started. After Dalton Schultz scored the first touchdown of the game in the second quarter, Maher had his first extra run attempt of the afternoon blocked. Even though the Niners couldn’t get their hands on that kick, it looked like the attempt was going to go left regardless.
Even with Maher’s historic struggles, the Cowboys sent him for a 25-yard field goal after failing in the third and third quarters. Maher’s attempt split the amounts to tie the game at nine.
It’s certainly not the development the Cowboys want in the most important game of their season. Now, that could sway their decision-making when it comes to whether or not to trust Maher in kick-and-kick situations, as Cowboys special teams coach John Fassel believes in yips. In fact, according to the Fox showthe Cowboys have twice as many two-point conversion plays as they did last week — in case Maher continues to struggle.
“I believe in the hot hand, and I believe in yips, absolutely,” Fassel said, via ESPN. “And you know, sometimes you wonder how you get into the yips, and sometimes you wonder how you get back into the hot hand. I think it’s just keep going to the line and shooting that stuff. We we missed a few free throws [Monday] … He had a warm hand. Let’s face it, he only missed [six] kicking all season. The yips are coming, so I’m expecting a warm hand to come up.”
So far, Maher has yet to rediscover the hot hand.