Cowboys back kicker after historically bad performance: ‘We need him to focus in’

The Dallas Cowboys may have won their first road playoff game since 1993 Monday night, but their kicking situation has suddenly become a problem. 

In the 34-14 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Dallas kicker Brett Maher became the first kicker to miss four PAT attempts in a game since the stat started being tracked in 1932. 

Brett Maher of the Dallas Cowboys kicks against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium Dec. 29, 2022, in Nashville. 

Brett Maher of the Dallas Cowboys kicks against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium Dec. 29, 2022, in Nashville. 
(Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

In the fourth quarter, Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy declined to send Maher out for a 35-yard field goal attempt, choosing instead to go for it on fourth and four. 

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And while the decision paid off — Dallas scored on a CeeDee Lamb touchdown — McCarthy told reporters after the game the Cowboys will need Maher moving forward. 

“We need Brett,” McCarthy said, per NFL.com. “He understands that, so we need to get back on it this week and get him ready to go. Obviously, kicking in an outdoor stadium out there in Santa Clara. Yeah, he’s disappointed. We need him. We need him to focus in. He’s been super clutch for us all year, but that’s the plan.”

Brett Maher of the Dallas Cowboys reacts after missing an extra point against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the third quarter of an NFC wild-card playoff game at Raymond James Stadium Jan. 16, 2023, in Tampa, Fla. 

Brett Maher of the Dallas Cowboys reacts after missing an extra point against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the third quarter of an NFC wild-card playoff game at Raymond James Stadium Jan. 16, 2023, in Tampa, Fla. 
(Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

Prior to Monday night, Maher had missed just three of his 53 extra-point attempts this season.

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He had also been a reliable field goal kicker, making 29 of 32 field goal attempts. 

After the game, quarterback Dak Prescott, who was visibly frustrated on the sidelines after one of Maher’s four misses, backed the fourth-year kicker. 

“I’m Money Maher’s biggest fan,” Prescott said. “Obviously I’ve been shown the video of me, and that’s just emotion. That’s part of it. But I talked to him individually, just told him after the game, ‘Hey, let that go. We’re gonna need you.'” 

Dak Prescott of the Dallas Cowboys rushes the ball for a touchdown during the second quarter of a wild-card playoff game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium Jan. 16, 2023, in Tampa, Fla.

Dak Prescott of the Dallas Cowboys rushes the ball for a touchdown during the second quarter of a wild-card playoff game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium Jan. 16, 2023, in Tampa, Fla.
(Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images)

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“I mean I just played like s— a week ago. That happens. But when you believe in each other, when you believe in what we’re capable of doing — knowing what that guy’s done, the resiliency he’s shown throughout his career — personally, no doubt that he’ll come back next week and be perfect and help us win.”

The Cowboys will head to Santa Clara to play the San Francisco 49ers Sunday night in the NFC divisional round.

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