CHICAGO – Questions about the Cowboys' kicking situation intensified on Thanksgiving.
Thursday night's 31-24 loss to the Chicago Bears didn't dispel that consternation.
A week after going 0-for-2 on field goals (one deflected) in the Cowboys' loss to Buffalo, Brett Maher missed a 42-yard attempt in the second quarter at Soldier Field.
Chicago grabbed the momentum after that, scoring 14 unanswered points (part of a 24-0 run) to extend the lead for good.
"Obviously, you have to make the kick," Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said. "We've had that instance the last couple weeks where you drive the ball and you are going to get yourself in a position to be competitive in the game and we were not able to cash in on the drive with a field goal."
Maher did make a 31-yard attempt in the final two minutes to cut the lead to seven. But he also landed a kickoff out of bounds early in the fourth quarter after Ezekiel Elliott's touchdown made the score 24-14. The Bears took over at their own 40-yard line and found the end zone three plays later to reclaim a commanding 17-point lead.
"We were trying to kick the ball away from 84 (Bears returner Cordarrelle Patterson)," Garrett said. "He's a big-time player. He (Maher) missed it a little bit left and it squirted out of bounds. So, obviously, not what we wanted in that situation."
Maher is now 20-of-30 on field goals this season. He has missed at least one attempt in eight of 13 games.
Exploring potential alternatives, the Cowboys worked out three free agent kickers this past Sunday but stuck with Maher. What they do now remains to be seen.
For his part, Maher didn't take issue with his approach to the week and in the game.
"I felt like I did a good job staying in my lane this week," he said. "I felt like I hit every ball pretty well tonight. I'll put my head on the pillow tonight feeling good about what I did this week and moving forward."