Jan 16, 2023; Tampa, Florida, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Pollard (20) rushes the ball against Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Mike Edwards (32) in the first half during the wild card game at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys RB Tony Pollard leaves before halftime with ankle injury

Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Pollard was carted off the field late in the first half of Sunday’s divisional-round playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers with an ankle injury. The team said at halftime that he would not return to the game.

Pollard was hurt after catching a short pass and being tackled by San Francisco safety Jimmie Ward at the 49ers 18-yard line with 1:24 left in the second quarter. Pollard’s leg got trapped under the weight of Ward’s body.

Pollard rushed for 22 yards on six carries and caught two passes for 11 yards before the injury. He rushed for 1,007 yards and nine touchdowns and had 371 receiving yards and three scores in 16 regular-season games, and another 77 yards rushing and 12 receiving in Dallas’ wild-card round win at Tampa Bay on Monday night.

San Francisco went into halftime with a 9-6 lead.

–Field Level Media

Jan 16, 2023; Tampa, Florida, USA; Dallas Cowboys place kicker Brett Maher (19) in the second half against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the wild card game at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Just for kicks: Sportsbook offering Brett Maher PAT props

It’s not often a kicker is one of the main storylines ahead of the divisional round of the NFL playoffs.

Then again, no one had ever missed four extra points in an NFL game since at least 1932, much less in a postseason game. That was, until Dallas’ Brett Maher accomplished the ignominious feat in Monday night’s 31-14 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

It was one more missed extra point than Maher had during the 17-game regular season. However, one did come on his final attempt in Week 18, which began what would become a streak of five consecutive missed extra points.

Oddsmakers believe he will rebound against San Francisco on Sunday, with SportsBetting.ag offering a prop bet with Maher at -500 to not miss an extra point vs. +300 that he will add to the total.

However, the sportsbook didn’t stop there. Should Maher fail to convert on an extra point, you can wager on how it will happen.

Where Brett Maher Will Miss Extra Point Odds:
–Wide right -140
–Wide left +120
–Right post +700
–Left post +800
–Crossbar +3300

For reference, Maher sailed his first two attempts wide right on Monday before shanking the third one left. The final attempt clanged off the right upright.

The Cowboys signed journeyman kicker Tristan Vizcaino as an insurance policy this week, but Maher is expected to handle the kicking duties against the 49ers.

According to reporters in clear view of the kicking display at the Cowboys’ practice in Frisco, Texas, on Thursday, Maher went 6-for-6 on field goals and Vizcaino went 3-for-5, including missing his very first kick.

“(Maher) needs to practice well this week,” Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy said, adding, “We all need to practice well this week. I better coach well this week.”

Whether Maher’s struggles Monday night play a factor in McCarthy’s decision making this weekend remains to be seen. Will McCarthy be more tempted to go for it on short fourth-down situations in 49ers territory? And will a potential lack of faith in his kicking game lead him to consider more two-point conversations?

“Whoever lines up here on the 48, I’ll have great confidence,” McCarthy insisted Thursday.

That didn’t stop SportsBetting.com to provide odds on whether Dallas will attempt a two-point conversion, be it due to more struggles in the kicking game or the game situation simply dictating it.

Will Cowboys Attempt a two-point Conversion Odds:
–Yes +135
–No -175

Maher did convert his fifth and final extra-point attempt on Monday night, and McCarthy tried to advise against reading too much into the Vizcaino signing.

“It doesn’t take anything away from our trust in Brett,” McCarthy said. “I just think it’s part of the responsibility. Player acquisition’s a 365-day (thing), this is nothing out of the normal for us.”

It’s unclear if the Cowboys would consider carrying two kickers on the active roster for Sunday’s divisional round game at the San Francisco 49ers.

–Field Level Media

Jan 16, 2023; Tampa, Florida, USA; Dallas Cowboys place kicker Brett Maher (19) misses a point after touchdown kick in the first half during the wild card game at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Mike McCarthy: Cowboys K Brett Maher ‘he needs to practice well’

Tristan Vizcaino was on the field with the Dallas Cowboys at Thursday’s practice, but coach Mike McCarthy said that the kicking insurance policy doesn’t mean the team does not believe in Brett Maher.

Maher missed four straight extra-point attempts in Monday’s 31-14 wild-card win over the host Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He converted his fifth and final try of the game.

Dallas added Vizcaino to the practice squad on Tuesday. Vizcaino had previous stints with the 49ers, Chargers, Cardinals and Patriots and was briefly on the Cowboys’ offseason roster in 2020.

“It doesn’t take anything away from our trust in Brett,” McCarthy told reporters on Thursday. “I just think it’s part of the responsibility. Player acquisition’s a 365-day (thing), this is nothing out of the normal for us.”

It’s unclear if the Cowboys would consider carrying two kickers on the active roster for Sunday’s divisional round game at the San Francisco 49ers.

“He (Maher) needs to practice well this week,” McCarthy said, adding, “We all need to practice well this week. I better coach well this week.”

Maher might have received the message. According to reporters in clear view of the kicking display at the Cowboys’ practice in Frisco, Texas, Maher went 6-for-6 on field goals and Vizcaino went 3-for-5, including missing his very first kick.

“Whoever lines up here on the 48, I’ll have great confidence,” McCarthy said.

The Cowboys will head west hoping to be the first team to hand San Francisco a loss since Oct. 23. The Niners have won 11 straight games, including seven behind rookie quarterback Brock Purdy, who’s impressed the league after taking over for the injured Jimmy Garoppolo.

McCarthy said there’s no point in crunching tape of Purdy’s days at Iowa State.

“He’s got plenty of film now and he’s played at a very high level. … He’s not a rookie anymore in our eyes,” McCarthy said.

“The three things that jumped out to me … is his instincts, his awareness and his confidence. For a young player he definitely looks very confident and comfortable in the system.”

–Field Level Media

Jan 16, 2022; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) runs for a touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers during the second half of the NFC Wild Card playoff football game at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Dak Prescott, Cowboys confront 49ers in playoff rivalry renewal

Nobody needs to warn the Dallas Cowboys this would be the wrong week for offensive line issues.

But health is not assured for the front wall of the Cowboys (13-5) as they prepare to tackle the San Francisco 49ers (14-4) in an NFC Divisional playoff game Sunday in Santa Clara, Calif.

“We basically have to game plan around him a little bit more,” left guard Connor McGovern said of facing 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa. “We faced a lot of great defensive ends and defensive tackles … let’s put the target on (Bosa) this week. We’ll give him his respect.”

Bosa dubbed Dallas’ offensive line as “definitely beatable” before a concussion knocked him out of the playoff game at Dallas last January.

But he’s earned the respect as the spearhead of the San Francisco’s No. 1-ranked defense. He had 18.5 of the team’s 44 sacks as part of a Defensive Player of the Year resume, and the secondary reaped the rewards with 20 interceptions (tied for league lead with Pittsburgh Steelers).

Protecting quarterback Dak Prescott rates as chief priority for the Cowboys. When rattled, Prescott has been prone to turnovers with 15 interceptions this season, tied for the NFL lead in the regular season.

The 49ers had five sacks and the Cowboys totaled 307 total yards on 70 plays in San Francisco’s wild-card win at Dallas last postseason, when the clock ran out with Prescott driving for a game-winning score trailing by six.

Prescott said in training camp he thinks about the loss “several times a day.”

“That one hurts,” Prescott said this week. “It will hurt for the rest of my career, and it will be a motivation throughout my career, just to make sure I’m preparing the right way, leaving no doubt in the preparation.

“So just being able to get (the 49ers) again … this thing’s set up just for us — playing teams that have beat us, teams that we’re familiar with.”

San Francisco’s clamp-tight run defense led the NFL and allowed just 77.7 rushing yards per game in 2022, second-fewest in the NFL. The 49ers are expected to put the pressure on Prescott to make throws in tight windows to move the chains. That puts the pressure back on Dallas’ front five.

In Dallas’ 31-14 win at Tampa Bay on Monday night, McGovern was needed at guard because left tackle Jason Peters left with an injured hip. The Cowboys shuffled the line entirely to compensate, inserting rookie Tyler Smith at left tackle, moving McGovern from fullback to left guard and leaving right tackle Tyron Smith at his adopted spot.

“It’s definitely going to start up front,” Tyler Smith said. “It’ll start with the big guys so that’s going to be the emphasis throughout the week. We know what we (have) got to do.”

Much of the drama on the Dallas side this week surrounded kicker Brett Maher, who missed a record four extra points at Tampa. Maher enters the game as the kicker despite some nerves admitted by the Cowboys.

Special teams coach John Fassel said, “We have a plan and we’ll go through it this week. I expect football karma to kick in.”

San Francisco’s kicking plan is solid gold. Robbie Gould, 40, has never missed a playoff field-goal attempt or PAT. He’s 25-for-25 on field-goal attempts — the most without a miss in NFL history — and 37-for-37 on PATs in his playoff career.

The Cowboys are getting their first look at the 49ers’ third starting quarterback this season, rookie Brock Purdy. The seventh-round pick threw three TD passes, completed passes to seven different receivers and the 49ers slapped a season-high 41 points on the Seahawks in a wild-card victory last week.

Dallas’ version of Bosa, chess piece Micah Parsons, played 15 snaps at linebacker last week. The Cowboys typically scheme to free him to aggressively angle toward the quarterback, with heavy use at defensive end. It helped the Cowboys last week to have outside linebacker Leighton Vander Esch return to the lineup from a neck injury.

But they’ll need near flawless play to limit another newcomer — trade-deadline acquisition Christian McCaffrey — and wide receiver Deebo Samuel from busting big plays. McCaffrey had a 68-yard run, Samuel scored on a 74-yard reception and six players had plays of 20-plus yards against the Seahawks last week. It was San Francisco’s 11th consecutive win.

That task falls to Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan’s former boss with the Atlanta Falcons. Quinn holds an advantage of having heard Shanahan’s play calls and tendencies through a headset for two seasons, but the familiarity flows both ways.

“I mean, Dan Quinn jumps off the tape to me there. The way he gets those guys to move,” Shanahan said Wednesday. “I mean, he’s got some real good rushers. Everyone knows about (defensive end DeMarcus) Lawrence and Parsons but I mean, there’s not one bad one there. The way that they stunt, the way they can create one-on-ones.

“There’s a reason they’re number one in getting to the quarterback with sacks and pressures, and it does jump off the tape.”

The Cowboys had 54 sacks in the regular season and took down Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady twice last week.

This is the ninth playoff meeting between the 49ers and Cowboys, with Dallas leading the all-time series 5-3. The winner went on to win the Super Bowl five times.

Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy was 49ers offensive coordinator in 2005. He’s 0-3 against San Francisco as a head coach of the Packers and Cowboys.

–Field Level Media

Aug 19, 2022; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots place kicker Tristan Vizcaino (2) kicks a field goal during the second half of a preseason game against the Carolina Panthers at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Cowboys signing K Tristan Vizcaino

The Dallas Cowboys are signing kicker Tristan Vizcaino to their practice squad, multiple outlets reported Wednesday, an insurance policy in the event of another meltdown by Brett Maher.

Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones hinted at such a move on Tuesday.

Maher made NFL history in the NFC Wild Card win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday night, with four missed extra-point attempts. According to Elias, Maher became the first player since 1932 to miss four PATs in a regular season or playoff game, a span of 16,207 games.

Vizcaino, 26, played in three games in the regular season – two for New England and one for Arizona. He made two field goals and three extra points in Week 10 for Arizona, while merely used for kickoffs by the Patriots.

For his career, Vizcaino has made 75 percent of his PATs and 11 of 12 field-goal attempts, including a long of 47.

Maher, 33, made 50 of his 53 PATs in the regular season and 29 of 32 field-goal attempts. His previous playoff experience came in 2018 with the Cowboys. In two games, he was 5-for-5 on PATs and 1 of 2 on field-goal attempts.

In the victory over Tampa Bay, Maher made his final extra-point try.

Jones said Tuesday he won’t rely on a strong history with Maher and fears going into an elimination game with doubts at the position.

Meanwhile, Cowboys special teams coach John Fassel said Maher had a case of the “yips.”

“I believe in the hot hand, and I believe in the yips, absolutely,” Fassel said Tuesday, per ESPN. “Let’s face it, he only missed (six) kicks all season. The yips happen, so I expect a hot hand coming up.”

–Field Level Media

Sep 26, 2022; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys DC Dan Quinn set for playoff-week interview with Broncos

Dan Quinn offers the Denver Broncos a massive mulligan on Friday, two days before he oversees the Dallas Cowboys’ defense in a divisional playoff game at San Francisco.

Quinn was a finalist for the Broncos’ job in 2022, interviewing with Denver before Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett was named head coach. Hackett was fired Dec. 26 without completing his first season on the job.

The Cowboys made Quinn one of the highest-paid assistant coaches in the NFL last January to help persuade him to return. Owner Jerry Jones didn’t rule out a similar modification to Quinn’s salary for 2023, but the payday wouldn’t compare to what head coaches earn.

“Obviously we think world of Dan Quinn and we all understand the contributions he made and they interviewed him last year, so it doesn’t surprise me they are interviewing him,” Jones said of Quinn meeting with the Broncos.

Quinn might have an edge given his connection to Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson. They were together during the Seahawks’ Super Bowl run before Quinn was hired as head coach of the Falcons.

As for the timing of interviews, the playing field for Sunday’s coaching is relatively even in one respect: Quinn interviews a day after 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans is scheduled to meet with the Broncos.

Dallas played Monday night, two days after the 49ers ousted the Seahawks in the wild-card round, and San Francisco has the advantage of homefield and not having to fly roundtrip to Tampa and now California.

But Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy said he’s not concerned with Quinn losing focus on the 49ers.

“Dan’s the ultimate professional. And he will not jeopardize for anything the preparation of this game,” McCarthy said.

While not yet scheduled, Quinn is also a candidate to interview with the Indianapolis Colts.

Quinn, 52, was 43-42 as head coach of the Falcons, leading Atlanta to the Super Bowl — where the New England Patriots rallied from a 28-3 deficit — before being fired after five-plus seasons.

He has served as defensive coordinator of the Cowboys for the past two seasons. Dallas led the NFL in takeaways in 2021 and 2022 and its defense was in the top 10 in points allowed per game each year.

–Field Level Media

Sep 26, 2022; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Colts request permission to interivew Cowboys DC Dan Quinn

The Indianapolis Colts have requested permission to discuss their head-coaching vacancy with Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, ESPN reported on Tuesday.

Quinn, the former coach of the Atlanta Falcons, is also slated to interview with the Denver Broncos on Friday.

Quinn put together a strong defensive game plan that helped the Cowboys roll to a 31-14 postseason victory over Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Monday night’s NFC wild-card round.

The 52-year-old Quinn went 43-42 in five-plus seasons with the Falcons from 2015-20. He coached the team to the Super Bowl in the 2016 season but Atlanta squandered a 25-point third-quarter lead and lost 34-28 in overtime to the New England Patriots.

He was fired after a 0-5 start to the 2020 season.

Matt Ryan was the quarterback during Quinn’s tenure in Atlanta and he is currently under contract with the Colts for 2023. Ryan struggled last season while starting 12 games in his first season with Indianapolis, and threw a career-low 14 touchdown passes while throwing for 3,057 yards and 13 interceptions.

Quinn is in his second season as the Cowboys’ defensive coordinator.

The Colts reportedly have up to a dozen people on their list of candidates. Interim coach Jeff Saturday is part of the mix after going 1-7 during his stint after replacing Frank Reich. Indianapolis finished 4-12-1.

–Field Level Media

Jan 16, 2023; Tampa, Florida, USA; Dallas Cowboys place kicker Brett Maher (19) kicks a point after touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the second half during the wild card game at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Jerry Jones: Brett Maher’s issues has Cowboys considering 2 kickers

Cowboys kicker Brett Maher might have competition, or friendly company, when Dallas visits the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday in the NFC Divisional playoffs.

Maher made NFL history in the NFC Wild Card win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday night with four missed extra-point attempts. Maher finally connected on a PAT in the fourth quarter.

“I’m Money Maher’s biggest fan,” Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott said. “I talked to him individually. ‘I just said, let that go. We’re going to need you. I just played like —- a week ago.’ So, I mean, that happens. … Personally, no doubt that he’ll come back next week and be perfect and help us win.”

Maher, 33, made 50 of his 53 PATs in the regular season and 29 of 32 field-goal attempts.

His previous playoff experience came in 2018 with the Cowboys. In two games, he was 5-for-5 on PATs and 1 of 2 on field-goal attempts.

But Jones said Tuesday he won’t rely on a strong history with Maher and fears going into an elimination game with doubts at the position.

“This is a classic case of looking at what he has done for this team on the field all year, not just last night,” Jones said Tuesday on 105.3FM in Dallas. “But kicking is a technical thing. It has everything to do with, frankly, mentally having it all together as you step up there.

“We’ll read this thing as the week goes along. I thought when he came out at halftime, watched him warm up and he’s making all of the kicks. I figured that was behind him. But we will take a look at it. We can’t … go into the rest of this tournament with shakiness at kicker.”

Jones said he will consider carrying two kickers on the game-day roster at San Francisco.

“We did it last year, we had one that was good on shorter kicks and good on extra points,” Jones said, adding that he expects coach Mike McCarthy to be more willing to go for two points. “It’s an imposition to have to use up that extra roster spot, but it’s doable.”

Maher’s misses in the Cowboys’ 31-14 win were significant in betting results, with a 45.5 point total at most books. The “over” hit on each of the other five playoff games during wild card weekend.

Hall of Fame kicker Morten Anderson chimed in on Twitter, asking, “Are the Cowboys hiring?”

Andersen, 62, played in 2,544 career games for five different teams from 1982-2007 and made 849 of 859 career extra-point tries.

–Field Level Media

Jan 16, 2023; Tampa, Florida, USA; Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Osa Odighizuwa (97) puts pressure on Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) in the first half during the wild card game at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Dak Prescott, Cowboys rout Buccaneers to end road playoff woes

Dak Prescott passed for four touchdowns and rushed for another to lead the Dallas Cowboys to a dominating 31-14 victory over the host Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday night in the NFC wild-card round.

Prescott passed for 305 yards while guiding the fifth-seeded Cowboys to their first playoff road victory since prevailing 30-20 over the San Francisco 49ers on Jan. 17, 1993 at Candlestick Park. Dallas broke an eight-game skid in that situation.

Ironically, the Cowboys will visit the second-seeded 49ers on Sunday in the divisional round.

Dalton Schultz caught seven passes for 95 yards and two touchdowns while Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb also had scoring receptions for the Cowboys. Tony Pollard rushed for 77 yards on 15 carries.

Tom Brady was 35-of-66 passing for 351 yards, two touchdowns and one interception for the fourth-seeded Buccaneers. Brady hasn’t yet committed to returning to Tampa Bay, playing for another team next season or retiring.

Julio Jones and Cameron Brate caught touchdown passes and Chris Godwin had 10 receptions for 85 yards for the Buccaneers.

Cowboys kicker Brett Maher set an NFL postseason record by missing four extra-point attempts. Maher missed three to the right and one to the left.

Dallas didn’t record a first down on either of its first two possessions but traveled 80 yards on seven plays during its third time with the ball. The Cowboys capped it when Prescott threw a 22-yard scoring pass to Schultz with 6:28 left in the opening quarter.

Tampa Bay had a chance to tie the score but Brady was intercepted in the end zone by Jayron Kearse on the second play of the second quarter.

Dallas responded with a 15-play, 80-yard drive that chewed 8:38 off the clock. Prescott scored the touchdown while cruising to the left on a 1-yard run.

The Cowboys delivered an 11-play, 91-yard excursion later in the quarter. This time, Prescott hit Schultz on an 11-yard throw to make it 18-0 with 27 seconds left in the half.

Dallas continued its domination with another long drive in the third quarter. The Cowboys meandered 86 yards on eight plays with Prescott hitting Gallup on a 2-yard score. Maher’s fourth miss left the Dallas lead at 24.

Tampa Bay got on the board when Brady hit Jones with a 30-yard touchdown pass on the final play of the third quarter. The two-point conversion failed.

Due to Maher’s kicking problems, Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy waved the kicking unit off on fourth-and-4 in the fourth quarter. Instead, Dallas went for it and Prescott hit a wide-open Lamb for an 18-yard score with 10:13 remaining.

Maher entered and kicked an extra point right down the middle.

–Field Level Media

Jan 16, 2023; Tampa, Florida, USA; Dallas Cowboys place kicker Brett Maher (19) kicks the ball to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first half during the wild card game at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys K Brett Maher’s 4 straight missed PATs make history

Not everyone on the Dallas sideline was enjoying the Cowboys’ dominant start to the playoffs Monday night.

After the Cowboys and the host Tampa Bay Buccaneers traded punts in each of the first four drives to start their NFC wild-card game, the Cowboys scored touchdowns on each of their next four possessions.

But each drive ended the same way — a missed extra point by Brett Maher.

That futility put the Cowboys kicker into the record books, on a page he doesn’t want. Maher is the first player to miss four extra points in a single playoff game, according to the NFL. He also is the first player to miss four extra points in a game (regular season or postseason) since at least 1932.

Maher’s first two misses were to the right and his third and final one of the first half was pulled to the left. His fourth attempt, with 10:04 left in the third quarter, tipped the top of the right upright before going wide.

What’s more, he missed his final PAT attempt of the regular season, giving him five straight missed extra points.

Maher finally made an extra point with 10:13 left in the fourth quarter.

Four other kickers have missed two in a postseason game, including Tyler Bass of the Buffalo Bills in last season’s playoffs. Bass missed two against the New England Patriots on Jan. 15, 2022.

The others to miss two in a postseason game are Roy Gerela of the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Bills on Dec. 22, 1974; Errol Mann of the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XI vs. the Minnesota Vikings on Jan. 9, 1977; and the Bills’ Steve Christie against the Raiders on Jan. 15, 1994.

Only Gerela has missed more extra points in his postseason career than Maher. Gerela missed six in 15 playoff games, while Maher has missed four (all on Monday) in three postseason games. Patriots star Stephen Gostkowski (29 playoff games) and the San Francisco 49ers’ Mike Cofer (12 playoff games) are tied for second with Maher, each with four career missed PATs in the postseason.

Luckily for Maher and the Cowboys, the Buccaneers’ offense was equally inept, with five punts and an interception thrown in the end zone in their first six possessions (other than their drive that finished at midfield to end the half).

–Field Level Media