Will Brett Maher be the Cowboys kicker against the 49ers after assigning Tristan Vizcaino to practice squad?
Maher is set to continue as the Cowboys kicker despite 4 missed PATs in the Wild Card game, but they signed another guy to the practice squad, just in case.
The Dallas Cowboys kicker Brett Maher had the worst case of the yips literally in the history of the NFL on Monday. He set a record during the NFC Wild Card playoff game against the Buccaneers, becoming the first player in any NFL game since tracking began in 1932 to miss four extra point attempts.
Fortunately for the Cowboys, they were able to defeat the Bucs despite that, winning 31-14 to advance to the Divisional Round. But now, they will face the San Francisco 49ers, and it’s a bit concerning to have an unreliable kicker when so many playoff games often come down to…a kick.
Cowboys sign Tristan Vizcaino to practice squad, but Maher expected to start vs 49ers
Yet, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, as he often does, remained loyal to his team’s kicker and adamant that they wouldn’t think of replacing him.
“No. No. We won’t [look at kickers this week],” Jones said. “He’s done enough good ones. I don’t think he’s blown the socket or whatever you do.”
Funny...because they ended up doing just that. Jones said that on Tuesday, and by Wednesday, the Cowboys had signed kicker Tristan Vizicaino to the practice squad. You know, just in case.
To Jones’ original point though, he is right. Maher’s terrible performance in the NFC Wild Card game was one of his only bad performance all season, though not the only one, and definitely the most ill-timed one. Throughout the all 17 regular season games, he boasted a 94% mark on PAT attempts. He hit 29 of 32 field goal attempts and was 50/53 on extra points. In Week 18 though, Maher missed an extra point against the Washington Commanders.
“At the end of the day, we all have a job to do,” said Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy. “He knows he has to put the ball through the uprights. And he’s been super productive and consistent for us ... I think so much in this business, especially this game, you learn from your experiences when it doesn’t go the way you like, as opposed to the success of it. So just like our whole football team, we came out of Washington and got punched in the jaw, and I think we clearly responded. I think he definitely has that in him.”
Maher finally made the fifth and final PAT attempt in the Wild Card game, making him one for six now. It was frustrating for everyone to watch, but despite quarterback Dak Prescott’s reaction on the field during the Bucs game, he backed the kicker after the game was over.
Indeed, Maher must get it together ahead of the clash with the No. 2 Niners on Sunday. In the Divisional playoffs and against this San Francisco team, every point is going to matter. The Cowboys were able to dominate the Bucs despite Maher’s many misfires, so they did not end up affecting the score, but it was still four points off the board, and it can’t happen again. The Niners defense has allowed just two touchdowns per game this year.
Maher met with special teams coordinator John Fassel on Tuesday morning and Fasser said he was “distraught”. Well…yeah. Fassel has dealt with cases of the yips in other kickers before - Sebastian Janikowski and Greg Zuerlein. But those did not happen at such critical moments like the playoffs. But he said they plan to move ahead with Maher as normal and follow their plan of kicking on Thursday and Friday.
“I believe in the hot hand, and I believe in the yips, absolutely,” Fassel said. “And you know, you wonder sometimes how you get into the yips, and you wonder sometimes how you get back into the hot hand. I think it’s keep stepping up to the line and shooting that thing. We missed a couple of free throws [Monday] ... He had a hot hand. Let’s face it, he only missed [six] kicks all season. The yips happen, so I expect a hot hand coming up.”
The Cowboys will play the 49ers on the road at Levi’s Stadium on Sunday with a prime time 6:30 p.m. ET kickoff.