Dallas Cowboys kicker Brett Maher has been the subject of media ridicule after his performance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs. The reaction is understandable. Missing four straight extra-point kicks seems unfathomable. Maher became the first player in league history to miss at least three extra point attempts in a playoff game. His fourth miss set an NFL record for any game. An extra point attempt for a kicker is considered equivalent to a layup attempt for a basketball player. Missing that multiple times in a game is not excusable for a professional.
Peyton Manning gets up and walks away in disgust as Cowboys kicker Brett Maher misses an XP for the third straight time.— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) January 17, 2023
"You've got to be kidding me! Why are we kicking it?! Why are we kicking it?!" #ManningCast pic.twitter.com/m1eSnArw4V
It was such an uncharacteristic performance from Maher, who had been stellar for the Cowboys throughout the regular season. Maher was 50-53 on extra point attempts and his 90.6% of his field goals throughout the 17 games of the season. He was consistent all year for the team, even when the offense was not.
Cowboys QB Dak Prescott defended Maher after the game, expressing confidence in his kicker heading forward in the playoffs.
“I just played like sh— a week ago. So I mean, that happens…Knowing what that guy has done with resiliency he’s shown throughout his career, personally, no doubt that he will come back next week and be perfect.”
Jerry Jones offered his thoughts on Maher after the game as well, saying that he is not worried about his kicking heading forward.
“Well, I was worried about what those extra points might do towards winning this game,” Jones said. “And when I got by that, I’m not going to worry about it anymore.”
The Cowboys played so well on both offense and defense in their 31-14 win over Tom Brady and the Buccaneers on Monday night that the only negative thing for Cowboys fans to focus on is Maher’s performance in the game. With that being said, Maher deserves the benefit of the doubt heading into the Divisional Round of the playoffs.
In the 2022 season, he was 9/9 from 20-29 yards, 5/5 from 30-39 yards, 6/7 from 40-49 yards, 9/11 from 50+ yards, and even hit a 60-yard field goal against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 11. Given these numbers, it is more sensible to view Monday’s game as a fluke incident than believing Maher suddenly lost his ability to kick a football and feeling like the team should move on from him.
While he does deserve some trust heading forward, it is imperative that Maher is able to fix his mistakes heading forward. The San Francisco 49ers will be a much tougher challenge for the Cowboys as they have one of the best rosters on paper in the entire league. The Cowboys are fortunate the four missed points did not come back to bite them their game Monday, but if Maher leaves four points on the board next game, it could lead to yet another Divisional Round exit for Dallas.