Dallas Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey has worn the same cleats on game day since his rookie season in 2011, using super glue and duct tape to hold them together.
But the days are numbered for his 2007 Nike Vapor spikes. This postseason will be the final time he wears them and he’d love to send them off with in style.
Like every kicker, Bailey dreams of drilling winning kick after winning kick in what the Cowboys hope is an extended playoff run.
“It’s exciting. It’s hard to get here,” Bailey said. “This is my second time. But it’s funny because there’s this mentality – at least with my position – that kicks are more important in the playoffs. Maybe you could make an argument that they are.
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“But, to me, the ones that you made that got you to the playoffs were important too. As excited as I am, you have to approach it just like any other game. Whether it’s kickoffs or field goals or extra points or whatever, it all feels the same for me.
“If I were trying to give advice to somebody, I’d error toward not buying into the hype of the playoffs because you don’t want to get too high and you don’t want to get too low. You just want to stay in the middle and approach it the same.”
Bailey made 27-of-32 field goals this season, tying his career-long of 56 yards. He went 46-for-46 on point-after attempts, too, and has yet to miss one in his six-year career (250-for-250).
The playoffs are different, though, and Bailey only has a small sample size to date. He went 1-for-3 on field goal attempts in the 2014 postseason, missing a 41-yarder in the wild-card game against Detroit and having a 50-yard attempt blocked in the divisional round at Green Bay.
The good news for Bailey this time around is that he’ll be indoors throughout. With the Cowboys locking up home-field, Bailey will have the comforts of kicking at AT&T Stadium and, should the Cowboys reach the Super Bowl, at NRG Stadium in Houston.
Bailey is among the most reliable kickers in NFL history, connecting on 89.5 percent of his attempts. That is the second-best percentage in NFL history behind Baltimore’s Justin Tucker (89.8 percent).
Bailey is a little better at home, too. He has converted 92 percent of the time at AT&T Stadium compared to 86.8 percent on the road.
“It takes some of the thinking out of it as far as having to account for wind or anything like that,” Bailey said of kicking indoors. “Even the temperature can have a little bit of affect on the ball and how it travels. I think it’s a huge advantage to be indoors from here on out. It just allows you to swing away.”