Carolina Panthers kicker Graham Gano is usually aware of his statistics, but this year he’s adopted coach Ron Rivera’s one-game-at-a-time mantra and applied it to his kicks.
It’s one play, one kick at a time.
So it wasn’t until Tuesday morning that he learned he’s second in the league in points scored with 110. And it wasn’t until Tuesday afternoon that he found out that he’s on pace for a top-10 season all-time in points scored in one season.
“That’d be really crazy,” Gano said. “I’m not looking ahead. That’d be pretty cool. I’m not going to look ahead at the stats but that’d be a really neat accomplishment.”
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With an offense scoring 30.2 points per game – the third-most in the league – and a second-ranked defense that’s getting the team in good field position, Gano has had more opportunities this season to get more points.
With 110 points this season, Gano trails New England kicker Stephen Gostkowski by one point with five games remaining. Gano’s previous season-high is 121, and he’s projected to finish the year with 160.
With Gostkowski on pace for 161, Gano’s 160 would put him in a tie with former St. Louis running back Marshall Faulk for 10th-most points scored in a single season.
Running back LaDanian Tomlinson’s 2006 season of 186 points is 18 points better than the next-closest player in the Super Bowl era.
Gano is at 110 now with two missed field goals and three more that have been blocked this season, including one against the Cowboys last week.
“He has been very steady and it is in spite of those things,” Rivera said. “Last year he had some opportunities early on and struggled. He had hurt his back in training camp and never really got into it. And as the season went on, he really started to get into it. Well this season he’s been outstanding. He came through in the clutch twice against Indianapolis. Had to kick one in overtime to keep it going and then he made the game-winner.
“He really has done the things we need him to do. For the most part all those blocks have been very untimely. To me they were kicks that would have pretty much made them three-score games. To have them blocked and force yourself to play the last 2 or 3 minutes like everything depended on it, that’s hard on a team. You would hate for that to happen. That seems to be something I need to make sure we get corrected.”