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Ought to the Cowboys lower Brett Maher after one actually unhealthy day?

Think about what a very horrible day at your job could be. If you happen to’re a bartender, perhaps you served somebody a drink with a fingernail in it. If you happen to’re a financial institution teller, perhaps you by chance handed a buyer $1,000 in money when all they needed was $10. If you happen to’re a automotive salesman, maybe you dented that $100,000 magnificence on the nook of the dealership whereas bringing it round for a check drive. Cringeworthy errors, all, however fireable offenses?

Then once more, you are most likely not working within the NFL, the place comprehensible errors can nonetheless value you your job. Like, say, lacking extra additional factors in a single recreation than anybody ever within the historical past of the NFL.

Kicking is such an odd, thankless, boom-or-bust occupation. In any recreation that ends on a closing missed kick — the 2022 Peach Bowl, say, or Tremendous Bowl XXV — a kicker’s teammates will rally round him, reciting by way of clenched enamel the outdated cliches about one play not costing them the sport, or profitable and dropping as a staff.

On one facet, in a sliding-doors form of means, a missed kick is not the one purpose a staff loses a recreation; that holding penalty that negated a primary down and killed a first-quarter drive, that move interference penalty that stored alive the opposition’s drive that led to a landing, that call to punt on fourth-and-short, all of them find yourself shaping the sport in a means that it will definitely hinges on one kick.

On the opposite facet is the “You had one job” mic-drop. A kicker is one who kicks, finish of story. And if a kicker abruptly cannot kick, properly, there’s not a lot use for him, is there?

Which brings us to Brett Maher, the normally dependable Cowboys kicker who abruptly, inexplicably and miserably missed one, two, three after which 4 additional factors in a row in opposition to Tampa Bay in Monday evening’s wild-card spherical finale. If the remainder of the Cowboys hadn’t completely throttled the Bucs on each side of the ball, rendering the misses irrelevant, Maher would possibly now be dwelling underneath an assumed id to keep away from the wrath of Dallas followers.

Dallas Cowboys place kicker Brett Maher (19) within the second half in opposition to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers throughout the wild card recreation at Raymond James Stadium. (Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports activities)

Because it was clear early on Monday evening that Dallas was going to carve by way of the butter-soft Bucs, although, everybody might chuckle and surprise simply how unhealthy this might get, reasonably than concern for Maher’s security. Now that the sport’s within the books — closing with Maher making what was absolutely one in all his most necessary kicks in his total profession — will the Cowboys kick Maher to the curb?

One unhealthy recreation typically is not sufficient to get a kicker booted, but when it occurs, it most frequently occurs both early within the season or with a transparent substitute plan in place. Earlier this season, the Colts lower Rodrigo Blankenship after a Week 1 tie with Houston the place Sizzling Rod botched two kickoffs and missed a would-be game-winner in extra time. However Blankenship was already on skinny ice due to an erratic and injury-plagued 2021 season. The Chiefs lower Matt Ammendola in September after he missed an additional level and a subject aim in opposition to the Colts, however Ammendola was solely retaining common kicker Harrison Butker’s cleats heat whereas Butker recovered from an damage.

Veteran standing has its privileges, too. Butker missed additional factors or subject objectives in 5 straight video games upon his return, however held onto his job. 4 years in the past, in a regular-season recreation in opposition to the Lions, Mason Crosby missed 5 kicks, together with 4 subject objectives and an additional level, and never solely held onto his job however stored on kicking for Inexperienced Bay proper on by way of this season.

As for the probability that the Cowboys will lower ties with Maher, by no means say by no means; soccer groups do all types of unusual issues, and you will by no means go broke betting on coaches and basic managers making unhealthy private decisions. However the protected play is to trip with the kicker they know, for 2 causes. First, apart from one Very Unhealthy Day, he is largely achieved his job simply superb for Dallas. And second, including a kicker in the midst of a playoff run is like making an attempt to restore a aircraft in mid-flight. Plus, there aren’t a complete lot of top-tier, battle-tested, playoff-ready kickers out there in mid-January. The Cowboys would possibly carry one other kicker into camp, however Maher ought to carry onto his job for no less than one week.

This season, Maher transformed 50-of-53 extra-point makes an attempt. In his prior stint with Dallas, from 2018-19, he hit 68 of 69 makes an attempt. In different phrases, he missed as many additional factors Monday evening as he did over the course of 46 common season video games throughout three full seasons. That is some notable and spectacular consistency … however the playoffs carry a complete completely different degree of strain than the common season.

Kickers who’ve made clutch kicks perceive the completely different calls for of the postseason. “In video games the place you are feeling the bottom shake a bit of bit, stomping and screaming turns into white noise,” mentioned Wealthy Karlis, who kicked a vital additional level for Denver on the finish of John Elway’s well-known “Drive” recreation, then kicked the profitable subject aim winner in extra time. “That is the distinction between guys who could make it within the common season versus the postseason, guys who’re actually good in observe versus guys who get it achieved in video games.”

Previous to Monday evening, Maher had solely two video games of playoff expertise, each within the 2018 season. He made all 5 of the additional factors he tried in opposition to Seattle and the Rams, and went 1-for-2 in subject objectives throughout that postseason, changing a 39-yarder and lacking from 58. Sunday evening, Maher had two misses proper, one miss left which was clearly a serious overcorrection, one off the upright, and at last — crucially — a profitable additional level.

“Figuring out what that man’s achieved with the resiliency he is proven all through his profession,” Dak Prescott mentioned after the sport, “personally, little question he’ll come again subsequent week and be good and assist us win.”

Though the over/underneath on Sunday’s Cowboys-49ers recreation is the bottom of all 4 divisional matchups this weekend at 46.5 per BetMGM, Maher will get his probabilities — or likelihood, no less than. But when Maher struggles once more with what ought to be straightforward kicks, subsequent week might be a complete completely different story.

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Contact Jay Busbee on Twitter at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or on Twitter at @jaybusbee.

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