Sunday, November 20, 2011
Kicker Dan Bailey continues hot streak
By Calvin Watkins ESPNDallas.com
LANDOVER, Md. -- There seemed to be a lot of confusion toward the south side of FedEx Field on Sunday afternoon.
There was the holder, Tony Romo, trying to call a timeout.
On the sidelines, Washington Redskins veteran coach Mike Shanahan tiptoed down the sideline calling one. The referees granted Shanahan his timeout as the play clock read zero.
The Dallas Cowboys avoided an embarrassing moment with Romo as the holder again.
Dan Bailey kicked the winning 39-yard field goal in overtime for the Cowboys.
And while this was getting sorted out, Dan Bailey, the rookie kicker, was waiting.
When Bailey finally got his chance, he booted a game-winning 39-
yard field goal in overtime to give the Cowboys a 27-24 victory over the Redskins.
The way Bailey is going -- 24 consecutive made field goals -- he might never miss.
In fact, he hasn't missed since Week 2 of the 2011 season, when he failed to convert a 21-yarder at San Francisco. In that same game, Bailey made a 19-yard game-winning field goal, the first of his career, in overtime.
There have been more gaffes by presidential candidates than misses from Bailey this fall.
The man is near perfect.
"It's just you going out there and executing it when you're supposed to," he said. "It's not all me, I got good blocking and obviously [the] offense and defense played well today. It's not just me out there, it's 10 other guys out there."
Bailey needs to make three more consecutive field goals to tie the team record of 27 set in 1996 by current kicking coach Chris Boniol.
"I'm not too concerned about that right now," Bailey said. "The only thing I'm concerned about is our win-loss record. If we get a couple more wins, we can get it rolling."
Boniol is the calming influence with Bailey. He tells him to relax and work on his techniques and block out mistakes.
Special-teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis is the emotional member of this trio.
Jerry Jones said when the organization was trying to sort out who to keep on the roster, it was DeCamillis and Boniol who "[lay] in front of the train" regarding Bailey.
In training camp, the Cowboys had what seemed like 20 kickers competing for the job. There were David Buehler, Kai Forbath, Shayne Graham, Dave Rayner and Bailey in camp looking for a full-time job.
The survivors were Bailey and Buehler, the kickoff specialist who can attempt long field goals, but is currently out for the season with a groin injury.
Forbath has nursed a thigh injury all season and is currently on the non-football injury list.
After what Bailey has done this season, there shouldn't be any need to worry about this position any longer.
"We all have a tremendous amount of trust in Dan in our whole operation," Jason Garrett said. "There's just too much evidence. He's done such a good job with every opportunity we've given him this year, both as a field goal kicker and as a kickoff guy."
There are so many things an NFL team needs when making a playoff run: a reliable quarterback and defense, a high football IQ and a kicker who can make clutch kicks when necessary.
Washington isn't anywhere near in this department. Graham Gano missed a 52-yarder in overtime to give the Cowboys some life.
Martellus Bennett and Dez Bryant made two big receptions to get the Cowboys in field goal range against the Redskins' defense.
The timeout follies seemed to relax Bailey, who said he didn't know what was going on. When he made the kick, there was a protest from the Redskins.
London Fletcher ran into the end zone to protest the call with the back judges. In the news conference, Shanahan made another case for raising the uprights.
"I'll be honest with you, I'm just disappointed they don't extend another 10-to-15 feet so that there's no question on if a ball goes through," he said. "I've been kind of adamant about that for years."
For three months, the Cowboys have gained a trust level in their kicker, and if he continues to move forward, imagine how much pressure it will alleviate from his team in the late stretches of the season.
"He has given us no reason not to think that he's going to come through," Romo said. "The guy is just solid. I almost feel bad when I am holding for him because I feel like my hold is the reason the ball might drift. He's that good."
Calvin Watkins covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com.