Bailey calmly makes history with 6 FGs
It appears the Cowboys have finally found a kicker they can count on in the clutch
ARLINGTON, Texas -- More than 90,000 people in the stands at Cowboys Stadium? No big deal.
Washington Redskins? Might as well have been one of Southwest Covenant High School's rivals near Mustang, Okla.
ESPN's "Monday Night Football"? Pffft. To Dan Bailey, none of that mattered.
Calmly, Bailey made history Monday -- history for the Dallas Cowboys by becoming the first Dallas rookie kicker to make six field goal attempts in one game and history of the Redskins with a 40-yarder with 1:47 to play to give Dallas an 18-16 win.
And to think he missed a 21-yarder at San Francisco last week. Missing a 21-yarder is like missing a tap-in putt. Missing a 21-yarder is like Dirk Nowitzki missing an uncontested layup. Missing a 21-yarder is like a comedian forgetting a punch line of a joke he's been telling for years.
It just does not happen. Or shouldn't.
And if it does, you have to deal with the wrath of veterans and normally have a short shelf life on a roster with two kickers.
"I was pretty upset with him," Pro Bowl tight end Jason Witten said. "I let him know my frustrations."
But then Bailey made a 48-yarder to tie the game at the end of regulation against the 49ers and a 19-yarder to beat them in overtime. Witten was the first to give him a hug. He did the same thing Monday.
Against the Redskins, Bailey made kicks of 41, 27, 32, 41, 23 and 40 yards.
"And every one of the field goals he hit, I just turned away because I knew they were right down the middle," linebacker Keith Brooking said.
Bailey became the third rookie in NFL history to make six field goals in a game. Garo Yepremian made six of eight Nov. 13, 1966, for Detroit, and Jeff Reed made all six Dec. 1, 2002, for Pittsburgh.
The last time a rookie kicker was so clutch on "Monday Night Football" for the Cowboys came in 2007 when Nick Folk banged home a 53-yarder at the gun to beat Buffalo 25-24. He did it twice because the Bills were granted a timeout before the first attempt.
You could go back to 2003 and Bill Parcells' first victory as a Cowboy when Billy Cundiff tied an NFL record with seven field goals in a 35-32 win at the New York Giants on "Monday Night Football" for another shining moment for a kicker.
"He's very cool," said Bailey's holder, Mat McBriar. "Nothing seems to rattle him. I really like the way he goes about preparing. The field goal he hit in Minnesota in the preseason, that was a big moment, too. For a rookie, he really doesn't seem rattled whatsoever."
"You're going to miss some and you're going to make some," Bailey said. "I'm going to enjoy this tonight but by no means am I finished. I've still got work to go. We've got a bunch of games left. I've just got to knock them through."
Of the 11 games in the Jason Garrett era, nine have been decided by three points or fewer.
In a league in which games are so close, having a reliable kicker can be the difference between making the playoffs and going 6-10. With the exception of Folk in 2007-08, the Cowboys have not had a truly reliable kicker.
With Bailey, it appears they finally do.
Todd Archer covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com.