Jerry Jones isn’t blaming Dallas kicker Greg Zuerlein for their last-second 31-29 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday night.
The Cowboys owner, however, knows that Zuerlein's missed extra point and two missed field goals didn’t help.
“The loss isn’t to be blamed on the kicker,” he said Friday on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas, via USA Today’s Jori Epstein. “But still, if we had had some execution on [some] of those kicks, it might have made a big difference here.”
Jones: Zuerlein wasn’t ready to go after training camp injury
Zuerlein missed an extra point early on Thursday night in Tampa, and then missed a 31-yard field goal in the first half.
Despite those struggles, Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy was confident enough to send Zuerlein out for a 60-yard field goal attempt with just 20 seconds left in the first half. He missed that one — which is understandable — but a 10-year veteran like Zuerlein is widely expected to handle the other two with ease.
The night wasn’t all bad for him, either. Zuerlein made three of five field goal attempts, including a 48-yarder in the final two minutes of the game that put Dallas in the lead.
Though he isn’t blaming past injuries, and said there are “no excuses,” he’s taking a big part of the loss on his shoulders.
“I feel bad for the guys in there that played their ass off, and I didn’t hold up my end of the deal,” Zuerlein said after the game, via USA Today. “If the team that that’s good, returning every player after a Super Bowl victory, and we’re right there, I just have to do my job.”
Jones, however, blamed Zuerlein’s offseason back surgery and slow training camp for his struggles in their season opener. Zuerlein wasn’t taken off the physically unable to perform list until Aug. 25 while rehabbing from the July surgery.
“I felt like we really paid the price of not having our kicker in training camp,” Jones said, via USA Today. “I look back and when you don’t have a kicker that’s real active in training camp, you may be kidding yourself in early ball games is he really ready to go.
Still, Jones isn’t looking to bring in a new kicker just yet.
“I believe in him long term and believe he’ll play better as we get into this season,” Jones said.