The Dallas Cowboys' coaching staff has been "exonerated" from sticking with Brett Maher after his historically dreadful kicking performance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- at least according to owner Jerry Jones.
Speaking after the Cowboys' latest playoff loss, a 19-12 defeat against the San Francisco 49ers, Jones said he was proud of Maher for bouncing back from four miss extra points versus Tampa Bay to make both of his field goals Sunday. His lone extra-point attempt, however, was blocked.
"Their decision for our kicker was exonerated with his field goals, in my mind," Jones said (via The Athletic), "and I'm proud for him."
On each of the Cowboys' first four touchdowns last week versus the Buccaneers in the wild-card round, Maher missed the extra point. He pushed the first two kicks wide to the right, then pulled the third one 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 did convert the extra point on Dallas' fifth touchdown.)
Despite the poor performance, the Cowboys staunchly supported him throughout the 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," Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott said following the team's win over Tampa. "I talked to him individually after the game, just told him, 'Hey let that go, we're going to need it' I just played like s--- a week ago, so that happens. So I mean that happens. Knowing what that guy's done, with the resiliency he's shown throughout his career. Personally, no doubt that he'll comeback and be perfect and help us win."
Maher also got vocal support from Mike McCarthy and CeeDee Lamb. Nevertheless, during the week leading up to their divisional round game against the San Francisco 49ers, the Cowboys signed kicker Tristan Vizcaino to the practice squad, to give 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 rough go of it during warmups. And not just when it comes to whether or not he was making his kicks. The 49ers apparently did not take kindly to Maher warming up on their side of the field, briefly interrupting his warmup before eventually allowing him to kick again.
A little drama in Cowboys-49ers pregame: Niners apparently took offense to Cowboys kicker Brett Maher warming up on side of field, stepping in middle of his operation to interrupt drill. Niners eventually allowed Maher to resume kicking. He made next try. pic.twitter.com/zOuYIDp3El— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) January 22, 2023
Oh, and he did struggle to make the kicks as well. According to The Athletic, Maher missed at least four kicks during the early portion of his warmups, pushing them all to the right.
Brett Maher just missed a 43-yarder about 20 feet wide right after 2 earlier misses right from shorter distance. Then made two. Then missed another wide right.— Tim Kawakami (@timkawakami) January 22, 2023
Things apparently went so badly (he missed two more kicks) that Jones walked onto the field during warmups to give Maher a pep talk. To put it kindly, this is highly unusual, although Maher then went on to make his next three attempts.
Things didn't subside once the game kicked off. After Dalton Schultz hauled in the game's first touchdown in the second quarter, Maher had his first extra point attempt of the afternoon blocked. Even if the Niners weren't able to get a hand on that kick, it looked like the attempt was going to go wide left regardless.
prior to the block... football didn't appear to be heading in the right direction pic.twitter.com/ZPPwNRcvVG— NFL on CBS 🏈 (@NFLonCBS) January 23, 2023
Even with Maher's historic struggles, the Cowboys sent him out for a 25-yard field goal after failing on third-and-goal in the third quarter. Maher's attempt split the uprights to tie the game at nine. He then attempted a 43-yarder with Dallas trailing, 16-9, with about 11 minutes to play, and that too was good.
Maher bounce-back effort served as a bittersweet moment after a nightmare of a game last week.