Dallas Cowboys kicker Brett Maher had a terrible game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week,
On each of the Cowboys’ first four touchdowns, Maher missed the extra point. He slid the first two kicks wide to the right, then pulled 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 points in a playoff game. (He converted the extra point on Dallas’ fifth touchdown.)
Despite the poor performance, the Cowboys unwaveringly supported him all week. Maher had gone 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,” said Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott said after the team’s win above Tampa. “I spoke to him individually after the game, just told him, ‘Hey, let that go, we’re going to need it’. I just played a week ago, so that happens. So I mean, that happens. Knowing what that guy has done, with the resilience he has shown throughout his career. Personally, he has no doubts that he will come back and be perfect and help us win.”
Maher also received vocal support from Mike McCarthy and CeeDee Lamb. Nevertheless, during the week leading up to their division round game against San Francisco 49ers kicker Tristan Vizcaino, the Cowboys signed to the practice squad, giving them another option in place of Maher for Sunday night. But Dallas didn’t elevate Vizcaino to the active roster, so Maher will be their kicker.
And apparently he had a hard time during the warmups. And not just when it comes to whether he made his kicks or not. The 49ers apparently did not take kindly to Maher warming up on their side of the field, briefly interrupting his warmup before finally allowing him to punt again.
Oh, and he also had trouble doing the stairs. According to The Athletic, Maher missed at least four kicks during the early part of his warm-ups, pushing them all to the right.
It apparently went so bad (he missed two more kicks) that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones walked onto the field during warmups to give Maher a pep talk. To put it kindly, this is highly unusual, although Maher continued at the time make his next three attempts.
That’s certainly not the kind of news the Cowboys want to get ahead of their season’s most important game. However, it could affect their decision making when it comes to whether or not to trust Maher in situations where everyone has to go out, as Cowboys special teams coach John Fassel is a supporter of the yips. In fact, according to the Fox broadcastthe Cowboys have twice as many two-point conversion games as last week — in case Maher continues to struggle.
“I believe in the hot hand, and I absolutely believe in the yips,” Fassel said via ESPN. “And you know, you sometimes wonder how you get into the yips, and you sometimes wonder how you get back into the hot hand. I think it keeps going to the line and that thing shoots. We missed a few free throws [Monday] … He had a hot hand. Let’s face it, he just missed [six] kicks all season. The yips happen, so I expect a hot hand coming.”
If his warm-up kicks are any indication, Maher may not have rediscovered the hot hand just yet.