Dallas Cowboys Can't Lose Kicker Dan Bailey

By Jeric Griffin

It seems the Dallas Cowboys have finally found a reliable kicker. Undrafted rookie Dan Bailey made all of the Cowboys’ points in an 18-16 win over the Washington Redskins on Monday night. Bailey was six-for-six on field goal attempts ranging from 27 to 41 yards. Dallas has needed a reliable kicker for years and now it appears it has one.

Bailey made history Monday night by becoming the first rookie kicker in Dallas history to make six field goals in one game. That may not sound like a big deal, but he was one field goal shy of tying the Cowboys’ record outright and two shy of the NFL record. However, none of that is nearly as important as Bailey’s percentage; he hit every kick attempted.

The Cowboys’ offense was slowed by inexperienced receivers and mental mistakes by first-year starting center Phil Costa. Then it was stopped completely when Dallas head coach and offensive coordinator Jason Garrett continuously warped his play-calling in the red zone. That led to six field goals for Bailey, the one sure thing for the Cowboys in the victory.

“It’s not a big deal,” Bailey said. “No kick is really different than any other. You block out the pressure if there is any and approach it like practice.”

Thus, Cowboys fans have quickly forgotten Bailey’s 21-yard miss against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 2. That’s partly because he made up for it by hitting two clutch kicks later in the same game, one to send the game to overtime and then another to win it. As if Bailey’s first five makes on Monday night weren’t impressive enough, his final attempt won the game for Dallas with 1:47 left.

The last time Dallas had such a clutch kicking performance was when Baltimore Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff was a Cowboy. During a Monday night victory over the New York Giants in 2003, Cundiff tied what was then the NFL record with seven field goals. Then he was cut by the Cowboys two years later and has since been named an All-Pro. The same holds true for New York Jets kicker Nick Folk. He, too, won a Monday night thriller for Dallas on a clutch field goal. Then Folk beat the Cowboys on such a kick in Week 1 of this season.

Maybe the Cowboys will hang on to Bailey long enough to see if he can become a franchise kicker like the two previously mentioned players. That’s mostly up to Bailey, though. If he keeps making all the field goal attempts he’s supposed to and then makes a few that he’s not, he’ll be a Cowboy for a long time to come.

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