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Foreign Objects to K-Balls; Unique Night For Maher


FRISCO, Texas – The one real negative aspect that came out of Monday's historic playoff win over the Bucs centered on the uncharacteristic night for kicker Brett Maher and his four extra-point misses.

As the Cowboys get ready for a quick turnaround to prepare for the 49ers, there are three relative questions that keep popping up regarding the team's struggling kicker.

  1. Will Maher actually be the kicker in San Francisco next Sunday?
  2. Will the Cowboys add a kicker to the practice squad for possible insurance?
  3. And lastly, what the heck happened in the first place?

Addressing the first two, it doesn't sound as if the Cowboys will make any changes right now. Head coach Mike McCarthy and special teams coordinator John Fassel both spoke of a "plan" for Maher this week in practice and will lean on the overall success the kicker has enjoyed this season.

Obviously, things can change if Maher's struggles continue in practice, but it seems as if he'll be the kicker against the 49ers.

"Hell yeah … if you ask me. Absolutely," Fassel said on Tuesday when asked directly if Maher would be the kicker. "It's just one of those days. He was distraught, like I am. But I have full confidence that he'll rebound."

Now, with that out of the way, let's find out what happened?
To some, the backstory doesn't matter so much regarding kickers. Either it goes in or it doesn't, and in Maher's case it only went through the uprights 20 percent of the time for extra points, which should be automatic.

Fassel gave absolutely no excuses for Maher, stating that "you're supposed to make extra points." But he did share some unique stories the special teams units were dealing with for the first time all season.

For starters, Fassel said a referee took away holder Bryan Anger's spot just before the second extra point attempt, stating rules that prohibit "foreign objects" to be used as a spot on the field. In this case, Anger clipped a piece of painted white grass and placed it down where the spot would go, a procedure that's been done all season long.

But on this night, the refs decided to swipe it away just before the kick, throwing off Anger's location for the spot and perhaps getting into Maher's head after he had already missed one.

"I hadn't seen any memo or discussion about it … I didn't even know about it until our holder came up to tell me what happened. Supposedly, it was emphasized all season but it's never been brought up to me my whole career. It's not an excuse by any means, just very unique to have that happened."

Another odd event that occurred was the fact the Cowboys lost their first two "K" balls and had to use K-3, a ball that is almost out of the box and hadn't been doctored up or worked in as much.

Fassel said all teams get three kicking balls to use in a game but for some reason, the first two went into the stands and were never retrieved, leaving the Cowboys to kick and punt with a newer ball.

Again, Fassel couldn't emphasize enough that these occurrences are not excuses but yet possible distractions for his kicker who clearly had an unusual game, considering he hadn't missed four field goals all season, much less extra points.

"I don't think it was anything physical with Brett," Fassel said. "We will continue to work. We had a great conversation about it. I said 'let's not pretend it didn't happen.' But we have a plan and we'll go through it this week. I expect football Karma to kick in."

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