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Safety Jeff Heath served as emergency kicker for Cowboys

Year of the Kicker is our ongoing feature spotlighting NFL kickers. See our previous entries on Bills K Stephen Hauschka, Eagles K Jake Elliott, Raiders K Giorgio Tavecchio.

Fans have come to rely on Dan Bailey putting 3 points on the board anytime the Dallas Cowboys have ventured into field goal range over the past seven years. In fact, with a career field-goal percentage of 89.9%, Bailey is the NFL's all-time leaderin the category. This season, he has not missed a kick, including a 56-yarder against the Broncos in Week 2.

But when the Pro Bowl kicker went down with a groin injury on Sunday during a 40-10 win over the San Francisco 49ers, the team turned to an unlikely replacement: defensive back Jeff Heath.

Heath nominally plays defense, but on Sunday, the 212-pound strong safety was subbing in on kickoffs and extra points.

Heath's first kick was equally comical and dramatic, as the ball CLANG!ed off the upright but still found its way through.

The strong safety went 2-for-3 with extra point kicks, the first non-kicker to do so in nearly 40 years.

Football fans might remember a few other instances in recent years that were somewhat similar. In 2010, Patriots receiver Wes Welker kicked an extra point, but that was before the PAT was moved from the 2-yard line to the 15. Welker made a 29-yard field goal for the Dolphins in 2004, too.

Heath drew on his experience as a kicker. In high school, he was named Big Play Player of the Year after kicking a game-winning 49-yarder to give Lake Orion a playoff victory. He demonstrated his abilities to his coaches and teammates earlier in the year during training camp.

Taking a look through his Instagram, it's clear that Jeff Heath doesn't skip leg day.

Another reason it's easy to root for Jeff Heath: he has cool dogs.

Heath and his fiancée, Paige Cavalieri, frequently post photos of their two English Bulldogs, Emmitt and Herschel -- named in honor of legendary Cowboys Emmitt Smith and Herschel Walker. Take a look:

Cowboys fans will have to go without Dan Bailey for the next few weeks, and the team is actively looking to sign a replacement kicker. But who knows? Maybe they'll decide their best option is already on the team playing defense.

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