The Dallas Cowboys played a near-perfect game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday; Well, except for one player. Brett Maher suffered a total meltdown on a night where he missed a total of four extra points and went 1-5 in the Cowboys’ 31-14 win.
The performance wasn’t just bad, it was historically bad. With the four misses, Maher became the first kicker in NFL history to miss four extra points in a game.
With every missed shot, it was clear the Cowboys were growing more and more frustrated with him on the touchline. Missing his third kick, Dak Prescott scowled on the sidelines while Peyton and Eli Manning appeared in shock.
Maher seems to have caught a case from Yip. Not only did he miss his first four tries against the Buccaneers, but he also missed his only try in Week 18, bringing his streak of consecutive misses to five. However, that streak ended Monday in the fourth quarter when Maher finally scored an extra point, prompting a loud cheer from the crowd at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.
Despite Maher’s historic playoff collapse, the Cowboys plan to stick with him in their divisional round playoff matchup against the 49ers.
“I believe in the hot hand, and I absolutely believe in the yips,” special teams coordinator John Fassel said on ESPN. “And you know, you sometimes wonder how you get in the yips, and you sometimes wonder how you get in the hot hand again. I think it’s all about getting back to the line and shooting that thing over and over again. We missed a few free throws [Monday] … He had a hot hand. Let’s be honest, he was just missing [six] Kicks all season. The whine happens, so I expect a hot hand to come up.”
However, Dallas adds some insurance NFL Media Coverage that Tristan Vizcaino is to be admitted to the drill squad pending a physical. Vizcaino, 26, competed for the Arizona Cardinals this season while Matt Prater was sidelined. In Week 10 against the Los Angeles Rams, he scored his two field goals and all three of his extra points. He then joined the New England Patriots, where he served as a kickoff man in Weeks 13 and 16.
Vizcaino, a 2018 undrafted free agent, has scored 11 of his 12 career field goals (47 long) but only 15 of his 20 extra points. Still, don’t expect Vizcaino to see the field unless Maher keeps fighting.
“We have to get him ready to go [for San Francisco]” Head coach Mike McCarthy added, via NBCDWF. “We need him. He’s been a great clutch for us all year.”
Maher also seems to have the support of his teammates.
A particularly supportive teammate was Dak Prescott.
“I’m Money Maher’s biggest fan,” Prescott said after the win. “I spoke to him one-on-one after the game and just said to him, ‘Hey, let that go, we’re going to need it’. I played like this a week ago, so this happens. Well, I mean, this happens. Knowing what this guy did, with the resilience he’s shown throughout his career. Personally, there is no doubt that he will come back and be perfect and help us win.”
The Cowboys kicker struggled at times during the regular season for extra points, but it never got that bad. In the 2022 season, he scored 50 out of 53 extra points, which was good for a 94.3% conversion rate that ranked 22nd for any kicker attempting 15 or more extra points.
Though he couldn’t hit from close range on Monday, Maher got into the clutch several times throughout the year and had no problem hitting long kicks for the Cowboys. Not only did he have 9 of 11 yards for 50 yards or more in 2022, but he also holds the NFL record for most field goals of 60 yards or more with four. It’s the short things that cause problems.
A few kickers have struggled since the extra point was moved to 33 yards in 2015, but they almost never struggled the way Maher did Monday night. In fact, only one other kicker has even missed three extra points in a game in the last seven years and that was Matt Gay, who played 2 for 5 in a 35-22 win over the Falcons while playing for the Buccaneers in November 2019 ( Gay now plays for the Rams).
Aside from Gay and Maher, you have to go back to 1993 to find a game where a kicker missed three extra points (Roger Ruzek did when he played for the Eagles), but no one else missed four.
The advantage for the Cowboys is that Maher was the only player who really struggled in Dallas’ 31-14 win. The Cowboys destroyed the Buccaneers in large part thanks to a historic big play by Dak Prescott, who set a franchise record with five total touchdowns.
For a full rundown of everything that happened in-game, be sure to check out our takeaways by clicking here.