- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- Preseason finales aren't exactly cash cows. That was clear by all the empty seats Thursday night in Cowboys Stadium.
Jones' phone bill won't be impacted by a search for a proven kicker. He's more confident than ever that Buehler can handle the job after watching the second-year player go 4-for-4, hitting a 31-yard game-winner as the clock expired after drilling three kicks from 40 yards or further.
"I just really would have played this game, would have staged it, put the air conditioning on and opened the door to create those circumstances for Buehler to get that opportunity," Jones said. "It was worth the ballgame for us to see him step up there and make those kicks.
"We've got us a kicker."
Jones tried telling us that at the beginning of training camp. He did it in a confusing manner, making an obscure "burn the boats" comment that referenced 16th century Spanish explorer Hernando Cortes' strategy to make sure his men didn't retreat.
Translation: The Dallas Cowboys were committed to keeping only one kicker. And that guy would be Buehler, who led the NFL in touchbacks as a rookie kickoff specialist but was erratic on field goals in college.
The Cowboys made it clear they were counting on Buehler by not inviting another kicker to training camp. They believed in him after he worked all summer with kicking consultant Chris Boniol, who reworked Buehler's mechanics and mental approach.
"If they had four other guys in here, it's the same thing," Buehler said. "I had to go out and make my kicks. I'm my own competition. That's the way I looked at it from Day 1. I have to perform well in practices and in games, and I feel like I've done that pretty well so far."
He's been much better than anybody not employed by the Cowboys or related to Buehler expected. He was consistent throughout the first portion of camp at the Alamodome. He had one bad day in Oxnard, Calif., but that appears to be an aberration.
His preseason numbers: 10-of-11 with a long of 51 and the lone miss from 49. He finished in impressive fashion, making the 51-yarder at the end of the first half, following it up with a 45- and 40-yarders in the third quarter and finishing the preseason off with the first game-winning kick of his football career.
"He came through with flying colors," coach Wade Phillips, "and it inspired everybody on our football team."
It also put Buehler's confidence level, which has been building all summer, at a peak level.
"Sky high," Buehler said. "I'm glad I had the performance I did today and glad I had the opportunities I did today. Going into the regular season, I couldn't have had a better game to boost my confidence."
But it's not just about Buehler's confidence in himself.
The Cowboys won't enter the season scared every time they have to attempt a field goal. The Nick Folk nightmare from last season is a distant memory at this point. So is Shaun Suisham's brief stint.
Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett acknowledged that he adjusted his play-calling to avoid field goals late last season. No more.
The field goal woes weighed on the rest of the Cowboys' minds down the stretch. Not the case now.
"One hundred percent, across the board, everybody believes in what he can do," said tight end Jason Witten, a team captain. "You take your hat off to him. He's worked hard at it. He's got a strong leg. We all knew that, but he's really accurate with it now."
Let's give Jerry a little credit for his accuracy, too. It looks like he got it right by believing in Buehler.
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