Suffering a groin injury against the 49ers, the loss of Dan Bailey quickly brought laughs to fans, teammates, and people around the league as Jeff Heath would trot out to fill the position, but reality eventually set into all of those minds that Dallas needed a kicker. Of course, people knew that a replacement was in the near future and that there is no way Heath could take over the job, but when news hit later in the following week that Dallas would be without Bailey for 5 weeks, reality kicked in a little harder.
Bailey has been reliable in health by never missing a game in his Cowboys career, and in his accuracy, by being the most accurate kicker in NFL history. He is a tremendous asset, and a generational talent, that you can not simply “just replace”. Like that one great philosopher said, and I quote, “the three guarantees in life are death, taxes, and Dan Bailey”.
Quickly beginning the search on who should become the new kicker, names such as Younghoe Koo, Sam Irwin-Hill, and Mike Nugent would be brought up as to who is the best available candidate. Koo, who was known more for his name than his kicking abilities, and Irwin-Hill are both rookies that would fall short of the call from the Cowboys organization to the 13-year veteran Mike Nugent.
Released after converting just 23 of his 29 kicks in 2016 for the Cincinnati Bengals, a sort of negativity fell through social media on the newest player for the Dallas Cowboys. Although being the most experienced name out of the three, the new rule on moving the extra points back to the 15, would result in Nugent missing 6 of those as well during the 2016 season.
With the upcoming game against the Redskins, and both teams sitting at 3-3, a division win was a must as the Eagles seem to be running away with the East. Weather conditions being projected, and they fell through as expected, to contain scattered storms with winds reaching up to 40 mph, a team must be able to run and kick the ball in those situations. Finding their success continue in the running game, it was up to Nugent to finish drives for Dallas, that found a few of them stall due to holding penalties by the offensive line. Although missing his first FG attempt in the first half, Nugent would convert two XPs, but follow up in the second half nailing 4 FGs on the Cowboys 4 offensive drives, one that would even be from 48 yards out.
They were crucial to the outcome of this game, and garnered some comfortability among fans in their new kicker. Racing to a potential wild card spot in the playoffs, a 6 game stretch without Ezekiel Elliott that finds them playing the Chiefs, Eagles, and Falcons within it, Nugent will have to continue to perform at this level of play if Dallas wants a winning chance. He can either become a hero for the Cowboys, or live long enough to find himself be the new villain.