On each of the Cowboys’ first four touchdowns, 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.
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.
Things apparently went so badly (he missed two more kicks) that Cowboys owner Jerry 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.
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.
This is certainly not the development the Cowboys want during the most important game of their season. Now, it might influence their decision-making when it comes to whether or not to trust Maher in kick-or-go-for-it situations, though, because Cowboys special teams coach John Fassel is a believer in the yips. In fact, according to the Fox broadcast, the Cowboys have twice the number of two-point conversion plays as they did last week — in case Maher continues to struggle.
“I believe in the hot hand, and I believe in the yips, absolutely,” Fassel said, via ESPN. “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.”
So far, Maher hasn’t rediscovered the hot hand just yet.