Kicker Brett Maher Has the ‘Yips,’ Dallas Cowboys Sign Tristan Vizcaino as Insurance Policy
Posted on: January 19, 2023, 09:25h.
Last updated on: January 19, 2023, 11:07h.
The #2 San Francisco 49ers host the #5 Dallas Cowboys on Sunday in the NFC Divisional Round, with the winner advancing to the NFC championship. The Cowboys signed kicker Tristan Vizcaino as an insurance policy if their starting kicker, Brett Maher, continues to kick poorly in practice this week.
Maher missed four extra points in a somewhat easy victory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC wild card on Monday night. The Cowboys won 31-14, but Maher shanked four extra points in the first three quarters before he connected on his fifth kick in the fourth quarter.
I definitely didn’t do my part,” Maher told reporters after the game. “This team is too good moving forward for me not to do that, so get back at it this week.”
Teams need a hot kicker if they expect to go deep into the NFL playoffs. There’s very little room for error in the playoffs, so the last thing a team needs is a shaky kicker while trying to win the Super Bowl.
The Cowboys are +4 underdogs against the 49ers on Sunday. The 49ers easily defeated the #7 Seattle Seahawks in the NFC wild card with a 41-23 victory.
The Cowboys are +800 odds to win Super Bowl LVII, and +330 odds to win the NFC championship. The 49ers are +450 odds to win the Super Bowl, and +175 odds to win the NFC conference title.
Maher Misses NFL-Record Four XPs
Maher was reliable for the Cowboys this season. He missed only six kicks in the regular season, including three field goals and three extra points.
However, Maher caught an unfortunate case of the “yips” against the Bucs when he missed four extra points. The yips is a universal mental affliction that happens to athletes in sports — including golf, baseball, and basketball — when they lose confidence in themselves.
I don’t know what it is,” said special teams coordinator John Fassel. “But I believe in the yips and I believe in the hot hand. He had a hot hand. And then the yips happen. So, I expect a hot hand coming up.”
“It happens,” said veteran wide receiver T.Y. Hilton. “And for him, man, like after the second one, I just went up to him and said, ‘Chin up. Hey, we got you. We OK. We good.’ Just continue to just let him get his confidence. All he needs to do is see one go in and he’s fine.”
Maher set a record as the only kicker in NFL history to miss four extra points in a single game, including the regular season and playoffs. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that statistic spans 16,207 games.
Despite four missed kicks, the Cowboys intend to start Maher against the 49ers.
“We’re going to forge ahead,” head coach Mike McCarthy told reporters on Tuesday. “As of right now, that’s the plan.”
Journeyman Maher in Third Stint with Cowboys
Maher is a 33-year-old kicker who went undrafted out of Nebraska. He had brief stints with the New York Jets and Dallas Cowboys in 2013 before he headed north of the border to seek employment.
Maher kicked for several seasons in the Canadian Football League with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Ottawa Redbacks, and Hamilton Tiger-Cats before he got another shot at the NFL.
Maher had a second stint with the Cowboys and Jets before he latched on to practice squads with the Cleveland Browns, Washington Football Team, Houston Texans, and Arizona Cardinals.
Maher was the Cowboys’ primary kicker during the 2018 and 2019 seasons. He kicked for the New Orleans Saints in eight games last season before he returned to the Cowboys this season.
In 29 career games, Maher connected on 81% of his field goal attempts, and 95.5% of his extra Points.
The Tristan Vizcaino Insurance Policy
The Cowboys said they have confidence in Maher, yet they signed another kicker anyway. If the four missed extra points happened in the regular season, this would not be a huge story. However, the Cowboys are among the final eight teams still in the hunt for the Super Bowl, so Maher’s missed kicks have become a hot-button issue.
It would be really a big setback to go into the rest of this tournament, rest of this playoff, with shakiness at kicker,” said team owner Jerry Jones said during a radio appearance on Dallas sports talk radio.
The Cowboys will be keeping a close eye on Maher in practice this week. If he’s still infected with the yips, then the Cowboys will go with another option.
On Wednesday, the Cowboys signed Tristan Vizcaino, who played his college ball at Washington and who also went undrafted. He appeared in one game with the San Francisco 49ers in 2020 and kicked in six games with the Los Angeles Chargers last season. He was on the New England Patriots roster this season, but didn’t attempt any field goals or extra points.
Vizcaino connected on 91.7% of his field goals but only attempted 12 during his short career. He attempted 20 extra points, missing five for a 75% success rate.
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