ARLINGTON, Texas - One week ago, Brett Maher was the entirety of the Dallas Cowboys offense, booting a 51-yard field goal through the uprights to give Dallas a three-point lead in their eventual loss against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And while the offense was able to find the end zone on two occasions against the Cincinnati Bengals, they still needed Maher to save the day.
All he did was step inside of a phone booth and come out wearing a cape - nailing a 50-yard game-winner as the clock wound down to all zeroes to give the Cowboys a 1-1 record heading into an early pivotal matchup against the New York Giants on Monday night.
It was his second made field goal of the evening - good on a 54-yarder in the second quarter - and having also made both of his PATs to round out what was literally a perfect day for the veteran kicker.
"You do go out there expecting to make every kick," Maher said after the win. "I feel like I'm in a good rhythm right now. Jake [McQuaide] and Bryan [Anger] are absolutely money on the operation - gave me a great look at it. It's just a really fun group to be a part of.
"That whole last sequence was awesome where Bryan pinning them deep with a punt, the defense getting a stop, getting a good punt return, and then getting in position and coming through. That was a very fun moment to be a part of."
Interestingly enough, this marks the third time in as many seasons that the Cowboys have needed a game-winning kick in Week 2 of a season, Greg Zuerlein accomplishing the feat for the team in 2020 and 2021 against the Atlanta Falcons and the Los Angeles Chargers, respectively, the previous two occurrences also pushing Dallas to a 1-1 record after a loss in the regular season opener.
As for Maher, who re-signed with the Cowboys in training camp after a disappointing battle between undrafted rookie free agent Jonathan Garibay and Lirim Hajrullahu - the latter himself being on a repeat tour with the Cowboys - it was all about beating out Hajrullahu for the job.
He did and hasn't missed an attempt through the first two weeks of the season.
And, on Sunday, his poise also shone through in the fact he wasn't concerned with any potential attempt by Bengals head coach Zac Taylor to ice him on the final kick, a testament to the fact he already has chilled veins.
"I'm focused on making the kick," said Maher. "The whistle will stop me if it needs to."
Maher is on his third stint with the Cowboys, the most recent divorce having occurred in 2019 when he was replaced in December by Kai Forbath due to struggles at the time. He went on to have a better stretch with the New Orleans Saints in 2021 and obviously harbors no ill-will toward the Cowboys for their decision to move on from him at the time; and that's why he was on the first flight to Oxnard for training camp when they gave him a call.
"Every opportunity is rewarding to be honest with you," he said. "I'm happy to do my part with this group. The guys in the locker room are awesome. This whole game was a ton of fun to be a part of.
"This whole locker room is a ton of fun to be a part of. I'm embracing the ride and doing my part."
It's not the first time Maher has tapped into his clutch gene for the Cowboys, and that includes making a franchise-record 63-yard field goal against the Saints in 2019, but the elation he felt from being swarmed by Cowboys players as the crowd of fans erupted at AT&T Stadium - along with the subsequent celebration aimed toward him in the locker room after the game - will never get old.
He took home the game ball for the big upset against the Bengals, per head coach Mike McCarthy, and is feeling as confident as he's ever felt heading into Week 3.
That said, he's not willing to take all of the credit for a win that also saw his special teams compatriots, the entire defense and key players on offense - e.g., Cooper Rush, Noah Brown - combine for the much-needed victory.
"There was 60 minutes of football that was really good on both sides of the ball and on special teams as well," said Maher. " I feel like I did my part today and will continue to do so moving forward."