(Editor's Note: From the home office in Irving, Texas, DallasCowboys.com has this week's top 10 list, a ranking of the most out-of-nowhere performances in team history as selected by the website writing staff - Nick Eatman, Rob Phillips and Josh Ellis. A new countdown will debut each Friday.)
Sometimes, you just think a guy is what he is. A finished product. Such was the case with kicker Billy Cundiff heading into Week 2 of his second season.
Cundiff had a dismal field goal percentage of 63.2 his rookie season. He was pushed for a job in training camp of 2003, then missed his only field goal in the regular season opener, and had an extra point blocked. All around the Cowboys, people were asking when he would be released. But Bill Parcells had patience.
Still, the young kicker must have had the feeling that he was playing for his job in Week 2 at the New York Giants. But just when it appeared he might never make it, Cundiff connected on seven field goals in that contest to tie the league record. He nailed a 52-yarder as time expired to send the game to overtime, and a 25-yarder in the extra period to win it.
Years later, after he had been let go by the Cowboys and was even out of football for a season following stops in New Orleans and Cleveland, Cundiff re-emerged in Baltimore, a journeyman trying to squeak out another year or two. Entering 2010 with a measly 11 touchbacks in 70 career games, he exploded for a league-leading 40, and his 89.7 field goal percentage was the best he ever had in an entire season.
It all goes to show how impossible it is to predict what a player is truly capable of when everything falls into place. With that in mind, check out this list of the 10 greatest out-of-nowhere performances in Cowboys history.
10. Bryan McCann
A rookie free agent who didn't even make the Cowboys out of training camp in 2010, McCann was a waiver claim of the Baltimore Ravens, who released him just a week later. He came back to Dallas to spend half the year on the practice squad, then in only his second appearance as a pro, turned the fortunes of the entire season, intercepting Eli Manning for a team-record 101-yard interception return touchdown. The very next week, he bailed out the Cowboys by smartly scooping up a punt bouncing near their own goal line, returning it 97 yards for a touchdown in a close game against Detroit.