The Dallas Cowboys are looking to make the Super Bowl for the first time since 1996, and they’ll need to be on point in all three phases of the game to make that happen.
On Monday, the Cowboys earned their first postseason road win since 1993, advancing to the NFL divisional round against the San Francisco 49ers Sunday.
The offense was clicking on all cylinders, scoring a touchdown on four straight possessions after two three-and-outs to start the game. And the defense held the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to just 14 points.
But it was the kicking game that suddenly became a concern as kicker Brett Maher missed four of his five extra-point attempts.
After the game, head coach Mike McCarthy and quarterback Dak Prescott backed Maher, saying they’ll need the fourth-year kicker to achieve their lofty goals.
On Tuesday, four-time Super Bowl champion Adam Vinatieri chimed in, saying Dallas should not try out kickers if they intend to keep Maher for the game against the Niners.
“If you have trust and belief that Brett is going to get it done, then you don’t do anything,” Vinatieri said Tuesday on the “Up and Adams” show. “By bringing in more kickers, it only puts a little more stress on him. So, if you think that you have to make a move, then you jump on the waiver wire and see who’s out there. You do a bunch of tryouts …
“But if your idea is to keep Brett for next week on, then you probably don’t do that because that’s going to just make it that much more stressful for him and the whole organization.”
Prior to Monday night, Maher had missed just three of his 53 extra-point attempts this season.
He had also been a reliable field goal kicker, making 29 of 32 attempts.
Prescott, who was visibly frustrated on the sidelines after one of Maher’s four misses, backed the struggling kicker.
“I’m Money Maher’s biggest fan,” Prescott said. “Obviously I’ve been shown the video of me, and that’s just emotion. That’s part of it. But I talked to him individually, just told him after the game, ‘Hey, let that go. We’re gonna need you.’
“I mean I just played like s— a week ago. That happens. But when you believe in each other, when you believe in what we’re capable of doing — knowing what that guy’s done, the resiliency he’s shown throughout his career — personally, no doubt that he’ll come back next week and be perfect and help us win.”
Vinatieri agreed with Prescott but added that struggles in the playoffs are not the same as struggles in the regular season.
“If it wasn’t the playoffs, I think he has a longer leash,” Vinatieri said. “The fact that it’s in the playoffs, and they’re going to the next game that’s even more important, they better be clicking on all cylinders, or they’re in trouble.”