Graham Gano had a few extra days to think about what happened at the end of the Carolina Panthers’ 21-20 loss to the Denver Broncos.
If you’re the Panthers’ kicker and you pulled what could have been a game-winning 50-yard field goal wide left, you didn’t need extra time to dwell on the subject.
“I’m human, I think about it a little bit. I probably thought about it a couple of days because it was a long weekend,” Gano said of a game that ended Thursday evening in Denver. “But then I came back on Sunday and kicked and it was fine. Once you hit a few more footballs you realize it’s just another kick. There are a lot of weeks left in the season and you move on.”
Gano has been solid for the Panthers, making 84.4 percent of his field goals in his previous four seasons. The 50-yarder certainly wasn’t beyond his range, particularly considering the thinner air at Denver’s mile-high elevation.
But he was off at a crucial time against the defending Super Bowl champions. The snap might have been a bit high, based on replay, but that was no excuse.
“I didn’t hit the ball well. I obviously mis-hit it,” Gano said in the Panthers’ locker room Wednesday. “I think at the end of the day it’s just my job to make the kick.”
It helps a lot just being a veteran in this game. I came out (Wednesday) and had a great practice. It’s one of those things you just leave in the past and move on.
Panthers kicker Graham Gano, on getting over his missed 50-yard field goal attempt against Denver
Gano is in his eighth NFL season (his first three were with the Washington Redskins). He played for an elite college program at Florida State, too, so he has abundant experience to process what happened Thursday and move on from it.
“That’s sports for you. Not the first time I’ve had to face adversity like that. It helps a lot just being a veteran in this game,” Gano said. “I came out (Wednesday) and had a great practice. It’s one of those things you just leave in the past and move on.”
Panthers coach Ron Rivera immediately checked in with Gano after the missed kick to check his state of mind. Without making the miss into more than it is, the coaching staff reviewed the play and worked to correct whatever went wrong.
“More than anything else – and (special teams) coach (Thomas) McGaughey checked into it – is Graham rushed it a little bit. His get-off was a little fast in comparison to what it typically is,” Rivera said Wednesday. “We’ve just got to get him to calm down. Maybe Graham was a little bit hyped. A little fired up with the opportunity. “
The message to Gano moving forward: Retain your confidence because Rivera believes in you.
“The truth of the matter is he’s our kicker, he’s won some games for us – some big games,” Rivera said.
“Unfortunately, he had an opportunity and didn’t do it. But I know he’ll get (another) opportunity and we need him focused on doing his job. I have all the confidence that he will. I had that confidence on Thursday night, and I will (have it) going forward.”
Bonnell: 704-358-5129: @rick_bonnell