The Dallas Cowboys signed Kai Forbath on Dec. 9 to solve their kicking woes. For a few brief moments of his debut game against the Rams on Sunday, no one, including Forbath, was feeling particularly good about how things started off. The new placekicker sent the opening kickoff out of bounds, earning a penalty and giving excellent field position to the Rams.
"It makes me sick thinking about that," Forbath said afterward. He chalked it up to "jitters before the game" and claimed that he had been kicking it off well all week. "I don't think it's an issue [going forward]."
Fortunately, Forbath approaches each kick with no memory of the last one.
"That's something I've told myself since the first day of kicking," he said. "Forget about the last kick, whether it's good or not."
The strategy worked. When it came to field goals, Forbath was 3-3 in his first game with the Cowboys, including a 50-yarder in the third quarter. In the fourth, he hit two field goals, both from 42 yards out.
Forbath replaced Brett Maher, who had proven to have a strong leg, hitting three field goals of at least 60 yards this season. But he had become inconsistent kicking from the shorter distances that teams typically hope can be a reliable range for their kickers. Maher was 7-for-13 on field goals between 30 and 49 yards at the time he was cut. Missing out on those points caused Dallas to fall into deeper deficits and affected the game plan going forward.
Forbath, on the other hand, was a career 85.8 percent kicker on five teams upon signing with the Cowboys. After the game, he said he was glad he could come out in his first showing and gain his team's confidence.
"For the team, the coaches, [and] the fans, you want to get off to a good start," he said.
Quarterback Dak Prescott suggested after the game that there's an ease to knowing that long offensive drives will result in points.
"When you're not getting those touchdowns and you're getting down there and able to still capitalize on those three points [is great]," said Prescott. "Kai did a great job tonight, and I thank him for that."
The previous three weeks had been doom and gloom for the Cowboys, and inconsistent kicking had been one aspect of their struggles. For the moment, that issue seems to have been addressed, and in the one game that Forbath has been on the roster, the Cowboys have looked like a team capable of much more than they had shown previously.
"It was exciting," Forbath said. "To see this team win like they did today and be a part of it is pretty special."