The Dallas Cowboys have had a strong start to the playoffs after securing the second seed in the NFC and a third season of 12 consecutive wins. It’s quite an achievement for the Cowboys, but it means nothing if they can’t break their streak of exiting before the championship weekend. While Dallas seems ready to at least survive the wildcard round (so they hope), concerns arise when kicker Brandon Aubrey made his first two missed kicks in the last game of the regular season.
Most fans have attributed the first mishap to the FOX broadcast team consisting of Kevin Burkhardt (mostly KB) and Greg Olsen. Aubrey had made 35 consecutive field goal attempts this year, and it was not until his 36th attempt in the first quarter of Sunday’s win over the Commanders that he missed a kick. When such a streak occurs and the player is on the verge of making history, it’s best for most sports fans not to even mention it.
Aside from superstition, this can be viewed in various ways. Some will tell themselves that it was a good thing for Aubrey to deflect one kick and completely miss the other. He needed to get it out of his system before the playoffs. Then there’s the group of pessimists who believe Dallas should be concerned. In 1998, Gary Anderson kicked 35 field goals for the Minnesota Vikings without missing, but he finally missed in the NFC Championship Game, costing the Vikings a trip to the Super Bowl. In comparison, missing a few in the 17th game of the regular season is far from catastrophic.
Aubrey on the Money
However, it is concerning that Aubrey had completed 16 games without any misses. Then, in the last game of the season, with barely any pressure against the struggling Commanders, he missed two consecutive attempts. Luckily for the former soccer player, he had another chance at redemption and cashed in. But after being perfect all year, converting just one out of three attempts should at least be cause for concern.
In a low-pressure situation against a team that knew their head coach was on the way out, Aubrey blocked a 32-yard field goal and hit the post on another attempt. This was against the four-win Washington Commanders. In a game where the entire world knew Dallas should and would win by double digits. Well, the fact that they won the game and clinched the NFC East title is great and frankly the only reason Aubrey’s blunder isn’t a big deal.
Dallas hosts Green Bay on Sunday in a wildcard game at AT&T Stadium. On paper, the Cowboys should be able to comfortably defeat the up-and-down Packers (9-8). But as we know, these games aren’t played on paper. Green Bay has won their last three contests and secured the final wildcard spot in the NFC.
These Packers are resilient, and Jordan Love improved as the year went on. If Dallas can’t blow out this team like so many others have this year, and this game is close late, it’s fair to say they should be worried about Aubrey. Even in a shootout involving the league’s top touchdown passers (Prescott & Love), Aubrey is likely to have a few attempts. One has to wonder if those misses against Washington will affect him in a pressure situation in the playoffs.
Aubrey was riding high and possibly thought this NFL kicking thing was easy. When you’ve made 35 in a row, anyone will feel invincible. But after missing two kicks in a game after making so many, it will either humble the player or leave them doubting themselves. He may have nerves of steel and play the game as if nothing happened. But come Sunday against Green Bay, there will be some nail-biting moments, especially in the seconds before Aubrey’s first field goal attempt after the season.