Cowboys keeping K Brett Maher for 49ers game after meltdown

Sports // San Francisco 49ers

Cowboys kicker Brett Maher made history Monday night with four missed extra points.

Peter Joneleit/AP

At some point on Sunday afternoon, Brett Maher will trot out onto the Levi’s Stadium grass. Fox’s Kevin Burkhardt will ominously narrate like it’s a live shot of a hostage negotiation; delirious 49ers fans will be hooting and hollering; pretty much everyone else watching the game will be very uncomfortable.

The Dallas Cowboys kicker missed four extra points on Monday night, a bizarre subplot in an otherwise thorough undressing of Tom Brady’s Bucs. In nearly a century of NFL record-keeping, no kicker had ever done that. So in a matchup reprising the wildest playoff game of last season and one of the biggest rivalries in the league, all eyes will be on a journeyman kicker.

The Cowboys are apparently sticking with Maher, according to owner and de facto general manager Jerry Jones. “No, we won’t,” Jones said when asked whether the Cowboys would bring in kickers for tryouts before Sunday’s divisional round game. “He’s done enough good ones.” Maher indeed was decent this year, going 29-for-32 on field goals, and missing as many extra points (three) in 17 games as he did Monday night.

Maher pushed two kicks to the right, hooked a third left, then doinked a fourth off the right upright. He admitted after the game that his hook was because he was afraid of missing right. 

He did make a fifth attempt with the game in hand in the fourth quarter. But even in a blowout, his misadventures had the Cowboys on edge. After the third miss, Cowboys QB Dak Prescott slammed his helmet and appeared to scream, “Go for f—king two!”

It’s unlikely the Cowboys, who are four point underdogs in the divisional round, can afford anything like that margin of error against the 49ers. If last year’s 49ers-Cowboys playoff game had the funniest ending in NFL history, then Sunday’s game coming down to Maher might be the hardest to watch.

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