Dallas Cowboys kicker Brett Maher had a terrible 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 kicks wide to the right, then pulled the third wide to the left. On the fourth kick, it hit the outside of the upright. He became the first kicker in NFL history to miss four extra points in a playoff game. (He converted the extra point on Dallas’ fifth touchdown.)
Despite the poor performance, the Cowboys backed him solidly throughout the week. Maher went 50 of 53 on extra points during the regular season, as well as 29 of 32 on field goals.
“I’m Money Maher’s biggest fan,” Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott said after the team’s victory over Tampa. “I spoke to him individually after the game, but he told him, ‘Hey let it go, we’re going to need him’ I was just like s— a week ago, so happens. So, I mean happens. Knowing what that man has done, with the resilience he’s shown throughout his life. Personally, there’s no doubt he’ll come back and be perfect and it will help us win.”
Maher also received vocal support from Mike McCarthy and CeeDee Lamb. However, during the week before their divisional round game against the San Francisco 49ers, the Cowboys signed kicker Tristan Vizcaino to the practice squad, giving them an alternative to Maher on Sunday night. But Dallas didn’t elevate Vizcaino to the active roster, so Maher will be their kicker.
And apparently, it was going rough during warmups. And not just when he is doing his kicks or not. The 49ers apparently didn’t take kindly to Maher warming up on their side of the field, briefly interrupting his warm-up before allowing him to kick again.
Oh, and he struggled to make the kicks too. According to The Athletic, Maher missed at least four kicks in the early part of his warm-ups, landing all of them on the right.
Things seem to have gone so badly (below him two more kicks) that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones walked on the field during warmups to give Maher a pep talk. To put it mildly, this is highly unusual, although Maher went as far as that make his first three attempts.
Things didn’t slow down when the game started. After Dalton Schultz hauled in the game’s first field goal in the second quarter, Maher’s first extra point attempt of the afternoon was blocked. Even if the Niners couldn’t get a hand on that kick, it looked like the effort was going to the left regardless.
That’s certainly not the development the Cowboys want during the most important game of their season. Now, it could influence their decision-making when it comes to Maher’s confidence in kick-or-go situations, however, because Cowboys special teams coach John Fassel believes in the yips. Indeed, according to the Fox broadcastthe Cowboys have twice as many two-point conversion plays as last week — just in case Maher continues to struggle.
“I believe in the hot hand, and I believe in the yips, absolutely,” Fassel said, via ESPN. “And you know, you wonder sometimes how you go into the yips, and you wonder sometimes how you get back into the hot hand. I think it’s to keep stepping up to the line and shooting that thing .We missed a few free throws. [Monday] … He had a hot hand. Let’s face it, he just lost [six] every season begins. The yips happen, so I expect a hot hand coming up.”
So far, Maher has yet to find the hot hand.