The Dallas Cowboys are riding high entering the playoffs after securing the No. 2 seed in the NFC and a third consecutive 12-win season. That’s quite the feat for these Cowboys, but means nothing if they can’t break their unlucky streak of bowing out before championship weekend. While Dallas looks poised to at least make it past the wild-card round (they hope), one concern they should have is the timing of kicker Brandon Aubrey having his first two misses during the last game of the regular season.
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Of course, most fans have blamed the FOX broadcast team of Kevin Burkhardt (mainly KB) and Greg Olsen for the first mishap. Aubrey had made 35 field goal attempts in a row this year and had not missed until his 36th attempt during the first quarter of Sunday’s win over the Commanders. Whenever there’s a streak like that, and the player in question is on the brink of making history, it’s best not to even mention it, in the minds of most sports fans.
Superstition aside, this can be looked at in a couple of ways. Some will talk themselves into believing Aubrey having one kick blocked and outright missing the other was a good thing. He needed to get it out of his system before the playoffs. Then, there’s that group of pessimists who think Dallas should be worried. Gary Anderson made 35 field goals without missing one for the Minnesota Vikings in 1998. He finally missed in the NFC Championship Game costing the Vikings a trip to the Super Bowl. So, missing a couple in the 17th game of the regular season isn’t nearly as bad in comparison.
However, one thing that should be concerning is that Aubrey went 16 games without a miss. Then in the final game of the season, with little to no pressure against the flailing Commanders, he misses back-to-back attempts. Luckily for the former soccer player, he got another shot at redemption and cashed it in. But making one out of three after being perfect all year should be cause for at least some apprehension.
In a low-pressure situation against a team that knew their head coach was toast, Aubrey had a 32-yard field goal blocked and hit the upright on another. That was against the four-win Washington Commanders. In a game the entire world knew Dallas should and would win by double digits. Now, the fact that they did win the game and lock up the NFC East title is great, and frankly, is the only reason the Aubrey debacle isn’t a big deal.
Dallas hosts Green Bay Sunday in a wild-card game at AT&T Stadium. On paper, the Cowboys should be able to do away with the up-and-down (9-8) Packers easily. But as we know, these games aren’t played on paper. Green Bay was able to win their final three contests and grab the last wild-card spot in the NFC.
These Packers are scrappy and Jordan Love improved as the year progressed. If Dallas can’t blow this team away like they’ve done so many others this year, and this game is close late, they’d be right to worry about Aubrey. Even in a shootout involving the league leaders in touchdown passes (Prescott & Love), Aubrey is likely to get a couple of attempts. You have to wonder if those misses against Washington will affect him in a pressure situation in the playoffs.
Aubrey was riding high, possibly thinking this NFL-kicking thing was easy. Having made 35 straight, anyone would develop a feeling of invincibility. Missing two kicks in a game after making so many will either humble a player or make him second-guess himself. It’s possible he could have nerves of steel and brush that game off like nothing happened. But there will be some tense moments on Sunday against Green Bay, especially in the seconds leading up to Aubrey’s first postseason field goal try.