Kicker Dan Bailey missed a 51 yard field goal on Sunday that could have won the game for the Dallas Cowboys over the Baltimore Ravens. In a infamous incident last year, Bailey missed a 49 yard field goal that could have won the game against the Arizona Cardinals after he was “iced” by his own coach, Jason Garrett. Later that season, New York Giant’s head coach Tom Coughlin successfully “iced” a game-tying field goal attempt by Bailey with six seconds left in the game. His second attempt was subsequently blocked by Giant’s all-world defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. Sunday’s miss is another incident in a disturbing trend for the young kicker.
There is no question that Bailey is an overall consistent kicker. His numbers bear that out. Bailey’s career stats are 40 of 46 on all field goals (87%) and a perfect 47 of 47 on extra points.
And Bailey has shown glimpses of being clutch. Last season, during the Cowboys’ Week Two match up against the San Fransisco 49ers, Bailey hit two clutch field goals to win the game. A 49 yarder to send the game into overtime and a 19 yarder to end it. The following week, Bailey was the Cowboys’ only offensive weapon hitting a record six field goals, including a game winner with 1:47 left in the fourth quarter, to defeat the surging Washington Redskins, 18 – 16. He’d beat the Redskins again later that year with a 39 yard field goal in overtime. Finally, Bailey hit the game winning 29 yard field goal with no time remaining to win the Thanksgiving game against the Miami Dolphins, 20-19.
All of these game winning events have one thing in common: They all happened before the “icing” incident in Arizona. Since then, Bailey has missed every field goal opportunity when the game hangs in the balance late in the fourth quarter. Those games include the infamous Cardinals game, last year’s first match-up with the Giants, and last Sunday’s lost to the Ravens. I agree that it is a small sample size, but it is also a disturbing trend. And one that has to do with the kicker’s mentality more then his ability. So did Jason Garrett’s blunder inadvertently mentally-handcuff his star kicker?
Although Bailey’s record this season is perfect outside of the Raven’s missed field goal, questions will be surrounding the second year kicker’s clutch gene until he proves himself again. But in Dallas, that is the life of any kicker. You are only as good as your last made field goal.
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