"Greg the Leg'' laid an egg.
"If I did my job, we win that game,'' Dallas Cowboys kicker Greg Zuerlein said following the team's 31-29 Week 1 loss at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday night. "I feel bad for the guys in there that played their ass off, and I didn’t hold up my end of the deal.''
The veteran Zuerlein, who was recently activated from the PUP list after undergoing offseason back surgery, was poor almost start to finish in this opener, going 3 for 5 on his field-goal attempts, and 2 for 3 on his extra-point tries.
Zuerlein's first failure came in the second quarter from only 31 yards out, and was laughably off-the-mark. On the Cowboys' ensuing possession, the Dak Prescott-led Dallas offense scored a TD ... but Zuerlein missed another relative chip shot, his 33-yard extra-point attempt banging off of the left upright.
Dallas' faith in the former Pro Bowler continued to the end of the first half, when coach Mike McCarthy lined him up to attempt a 60-yard field goal try.
The kick was no good.
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"If you know football, you can tell someone had a solid game without having the best statistics," Zeke says.
"Obviously, you'd like to see him make those kicks,'' McCarthy said after the game. "It's really part of the reason I went for the 60-yarder. I have great faith and confidence in him. He made a clutch, clutch kick there at the end to give us the lead before the two-minute drive, but when you get in a game like that, you need all the points you can get."
Indeed, the 33-year-old Zuerlein - the former Rams standout hand-picked by special-teams coordinator John Fassel a year ago as they both moved to Dallas - redeemed himself to a degree when he nailed a 48-yarder to put the Cowboys up 29-28 with 1:29 left in the game.
Unfortunately for Dallas, Tom Brady and the Bucs - on a night when they celebrated their Super Bowl title - also celebrated here when their kicker, Ryan Succop, made a game-winning 36-yarder.
In the end, the Cowboys were eight-point underdogs but lost by only two points ... while the kicker failed to deliver on opportunities for seven more points.
"We’re right there,'' Zuerlein said on the Cowboys postgame show on 105.3 The Fan. "I just have to do my job.''