Dallas Cowboys kicker Brett Maher was 128-for-134 (95.5%) in his career on extra points going into the team’s wild-card game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday night. His chance of starting a game with four missed extra points was about one in 250,000. But that’s exactly what he did.
Maher set an NFL record for most missed extra points in a game, but, remarkably, it’s even worse than that. He missed his final extra point of the regular season a week earlier, meaning he actually missed five consecutive extra point tries.
“Can you cut a guy at halftime of a playoff game?” Peyton Manning asked on ESPN’s ManningCast broadcast after the third miss.
“He was hoping he could kick it from the 2-yard line instead of having to go all the way back,” Eli Manning joked on the Manningcast before Maher’s fourth attempt.
On the contrary, maybe Maher would have been better off moving all the way back. He is a career 4-for-4 on field goals longer than 60 yards, giving him the most such makes in NFL history and making him the only kicker ever with multiple makes from that distance without missing.
Despite expressing support for his teammate Maher after the game, Cowboys’ quarterback Dak Prescott was seen on the sidelines shouting “Go for f***ing two!” during the heat of the moment.
Prescott’s suggestion is legitimate. Since the NFL moved back the extra point to the 15-yard line in 2015 to make it more difficult, the Cowboys are 15-for-29 when going for two. League-wide, teams are averaging 0.964 points per two-point conversion attempt but just 0.938 points per extra point attempt during that timespan.
Although the frequency of two-point attempts initially spiked after the rule change, teams went for two after only 9% of touchdowns in 2022—less than the 10.8% in 2021. In fact, the year in NFL history that coaches were most brave in terms of going for two is still 1994, the very first season after the conversion was introduced, when teams followed 11.1% of touchdowns with a two-point try.
Maher did finally make one extra point—on his last attempt—in his statistical aberration of an evening. However, he needs to work out any jitters going into his next game. The Cowboys are 3.5-point underdogs heading to San Francisco this weekend, and the team can’t afford to miss out on easy points. Maybe their coaching staff should kick around the idea of going for two.