Jerry Jones critical of Cowboys' kicker, ball protection after Sunday's loss to Green Bay

Shalise Manza YoungYahoo Sports Contributor

The Dallas Cowboys lost on Sunday to the Green Bay Packers, their second straight loss, and perhaps more importantly both losses were to teams that are considered NFC contenders.

After a 3-0 start that had Dallas riding high, the stumbles have team owner/general manager Jerry Jones unhappy. And an unhappy Jerry Jones plus cameras and recorders at the ready means quotes are coming.

Holding his breath?

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One target for Jones on Sunday was second-year kicker Brett Maher.

Maher was 1-for-3 on field-goal attempts against the Packers, missing from 54 yards in the second quarter and 33 yards late. The second miss came with 1:44 to play with Dallas down 34-24. Had he made it, the Cowboys could have tried an onside kick in an effort to get the ball and tie the game.

Dallas team owner and general manager Jerry Jones has watched the Cowboys lose in back-to-back weeks. (AP)
Dallas team owner and general manager Jerry Jones has watched the Cowboys lose in back-to-back weeks. (AP)

Maher is 4-for-7 on field goals this season, missing one in Week 3 against Miami. He is 17-for-17 on extra points.

“Not to be holding [your breath] every time he steps up there and tries a kick, we all would like that,” Jones said, underscoring how tenuous a kicker’s job can be. “Certainly, it’s something you think about it when you are trying to win by field goals.”

Maher took full blame for the late miss, saying the snap and hold were fine; he just didn’t do his part and may have “pushed a little bit.”

Turnovers are a problem

The Cowboys had three turnovers against Green Bay, all on interceptions by Dak Prescott, and had three in last week’s loss to the New Orleans Saints. Those came via a Prescott interception and fumbles by Ezekiel Elliott and Jason Witten.

Asked about what’s ailing the Cowboys, Jones said, “I think that [the biggest concern is] probably our inability to protect the ball. You cannot win if you are one of these teams that for whatever reason turn that ball over.

“We have a quarterback that is renowned for his ability to protect the ball, so that ongoing concern is not a challenge that I'm worried about. We'll be able to protect the ball, I feel confident of that. It was also a little surprising to not be able to stop the run better than we did tonight. But let's also give our concern for how we were trying to defend [Aaron] Rodgers, that helped them getting that running game going. He's a tough guy to compete against out here on defense.”

Rodgers didn’t light up the scoreboard on Sunday — he completed 64.7 percent of his passes for 238 yards, with no passing touchdowns and no picks — but he didn’t have to. Running back Aaron Jones had 182 yards from scrimmage, including 107 yards rushing on 19 carries, and four touchdowns.

‘We’ve got some work to do’

As they opened 3-0, the Cowboys beat up on the teams they should beat up on: their wins were over the Giants, Washington and the Dolphins. Those teams are a combined 2-12, and both wins belong to New York.

New Orleans and Green Bay, however, are 8-2.

“I think it tells you right where you are,” Jones said. “You do well against teams that are getting it together and we've played two that have it together better and are 4-1 teams. But the point is that what you see is what you get here. We've got some work to do to get where we want to go this year.

“The good thing about this thing is: There are 16 games right now. There's 16 games and we're just through a little over a quarter of them and we can get it together and get better. We're going to have to get better to get a change to be where we'd dream to be, and I think expect to be. I think we've got a team that can get better and that's the key, but this is certainly not good enough, last weekend or this weekend.”

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