Cowboys kicker Brett Maher suffers historical playoff meltdown with four missed extra points

The Dallas Cowboys played nearly perfect football during the first half of Monday night’s playoff game in Tampa Bay, well, except for one player. Brett Maher suffered a total meltdown during a first half where he missed three extra points. 

Maher then missed a fourth extra point in the third quarter after the Cowboys scored another touchdown to take a 24-0 lead. 

The performance wasn’t just bad, it was historically bad. With the four misses, Maher became the first kicker in NFL history to miss four extra points in a regular-season game or playoff game (No kicker had ever even missed three extra points in a playoff game). With each miss, it was clear that the Cowboys were getting more and more frustrated with him on the sideline. 

By the time he missed his third kick, Dak Prescott was scowling on the sideline while Peyton and Eli Manning seemed to be in shock. 

Maher seems to have caught a case of the yips. Not only did he miss four in the first three quarters against the Buccaneers, but he also missed his only attempt in Week 18, which brought his streak of consecutive misses to five. However, that streak ended in the fourth quarter Monday when Maher finally made an extra point, which elicited a loud cheer from the crowd at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. 

The Cowboys kicker struggled on extra points during the regular season, but it never got this bad. During the 2022 season, he hit 50 of 53 extra points, which was good for a 94.3% conversion rate that ranked 22nd for any kicker who attempted 15 or more extra points. 

Maher has had no problem hitting long kicks in his career. Not only did he go 9 of 11 from 50 yards or more in 2022, but he also holds the NFL record for most field goals from beyond 60 yards with four. It’s the short stuff that’s been troublesome though.

Although kickers have struggled some since the extra point was moved to 33 yards back in 2015, they almost never struggle like this. As a matter of fact, only one other kicker has even missed three extra points in any game over the past seven years and that was Matt Gay, who went 2-for-5 while playing for the Buccaneers in a 35-22 win against the Falcons in November 2019 (Gay now plays for the Rams). 

Besides Gay and Maher, you have to go all the way back to 1993 to find a game where a kicker missed three extra points (Roger Ruzek did it while playing for the Eagles), but no one else has missed four. 

The upside for the Cowboys is that Maher was the only player who has really struggled. The Cowboys went into halftime with an 18-0 lead thanks in large part to Dak Prescott, who totaled three touchdowns. Not only did he score on a one-yard run, but he also threw two TD passes to Dalton Schultz. The Cowboys then pushed their lead to 24-0 when Prescott threw another TD, which went to Michael Gallup. 

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