How Many Extra Points Can One Man Miss?
9:00 AM EST on January 17, 2023
It was a big game: Monday night, final one of the playoff weekend, Tom Brady and the Buccaneers versus Dak Prescott and the Cowboys. And though the game was underwhelming—the Cowboys won in a blowout, 31-14—there was one unexpected storyline that kept fans on the edge of their seats. Would Brett Maher make an extra point?
Before last night, the record for most extra points missed in a game was three. Seven guys had done it, including such longtime NFL kickers Roger Ruzek and Tom Dempsey. Ruzek went 2-for-5 while Dempsey was 5-for-8. Two of Dempsey’s were blocked (“That was our best play,” said a defender). One of Rusek’s was.
Most everyone who missed three extra points in a game had one blocked. Nine kickers have missed exactly three XPs in a game. In 1968, the Giants blocked three of Eagles kicker Sam Baker’s extra points. Two of Rick Danmeier’s three misses in 1980 were blocked; one came after Ahmad Rashad’s game-winning TD. In 1985, the Chargers’ Bob Thomas had two blocked. The following year Max Zendejas had two blocked. (“The miss came after Dexter Manley’s touchdown, and Zendejas said he was rusty because of the quick score,” The Baltimore Sun reported.) Matt Gay had one blocked when he missed three in a game in 2020.
Buffalo’s Bill Atkins, in the first season of the AFL in 1960, missed three on his own, and he was also the punter. The Steelers’ David Trout missed his first three kicks in a 1981 game, but also successfully fooled the Browns on an obvious fake FG attempt. That’s only two of nine guys (about 22 percent) who missed three of their XPs.
Maher topped them all! He missed his first four extra points—and nothing was blocked. He became the first guy to miss four XPs in a game. He also missed his final XP of the regular season last week against Washington, so let’s give him five missed XPs in a row. He went 50-for-53 during the regular season, then missed his first four of the playoffs.
Currently, no one is talking about booting Maher off the team, but Jerry Jones did sound a little ominous when asked about it: “Well, I was worried about what those extra points might do towards winning this game. And when I got by that, I'm not going to worry about it anymore. I don’t think he’s blown the socket or whatever you do.” If this game were close, what was Jones prepared to do?
Coaches and teammates were more practical. “We need to get him back on it,” Mike McCarthy said postgame. “Get him ready to go this week. We need him. He’s been super clutch for us all year.” Dak Prescott even used a nickname! “I’m Money Maher’s biggest fan,” he said. “I talked to him individually, just told him let it go. We need him. I played like shit a week ago. It happens.” The Cowboys won a playoff game in a rout, but the kicker was so bad the quarterback had to reference how he played like shit recently. (The Cowboys website quoted Prescott this way: “I played (awful) a week ago.”)
Normally a playoff game that’s 24-0 at 10:30 p.m. ET would lead to a lot of people turning off the TV early and heading to bed. Not last night. I, and millions of other viewers, were on the edge of our seats wondering if Brett Maher would miss another extra point.
He did it! After a CeeDee Lamb touchdown, Maher finally kicked one through. “The team, the coaching staff, they were all awesome, and I needed every single one of them so I appreciate that,” Maher said. “I didn’t do my part, and that’s disappointing, but we’ll get back at it.”
The Bucs scored two touchdowns but went for two both times. The game had seven touchdowns and only one successful extra point. Now that’s playoff football.