The last time Graham Gano missed a field goal before Sunday came on a 57-yard kick in Week 2 of the 2020 season at Chicago. The Giants lined up for a last-second attempt before halftime and Gano’s kick tailed left.
That was one month after Gano signed with the Giants. He had spent all of the previous year, with the Panthers, on injured reserve when soreness from a 2018 leg injury followed him into the next preseason.
After that botched kick against the Bears, Gano made two in the second half and didn’t miss again for the next 35 attempts, until he lined up for a second-quarter attempt against the Saints last Sunday — this time from 35 yards. The kick gradually hooked until it curled past the left goal-post.
Since signing with the Giants in August 2020, Gano has served as a consistent point-scorer for a group that has lacked those at times. He opened last season by going 21-for-22 on field goals, then signed a contract extension through 2023.
Last week’s miss, however, Graham’s chance evaporated for now to break Adam Vinatieri’s streak for most consecutive field goals made, which he set with 44 makes between 2015-16. It was just his second miss in two seasons with the Giants, and his first from within 50 yards since Jan. 1, 2017, when he was with Carolina.
Once he reached the sideline following the attempt against the Saints, Gano recalled telling special teams coach Thomas McGaughey, “Hey, it’s time to start another one.” He made a pair of field goals in the second half, and his next opportunity to build on those will come Sunday when the Giants face the Cowboys.
“I shouldn’t have missed but I did, and you just gotta move on to the next kick,” Gano said Friday.
McGaughey told reporters earlier in the week that a Gano miss was “bound to happen,” though he wasn’t expecting it to be that particular kick. Gano said he knew it was going wide as soon as his foot made contact with the football. He diagnosed the reason for the miss immediately before his next attempt.
“He got overanxious, too quick, close to the ball, pulled it,” McGaughey said.
The next potential attempt could’ve come before halftime, as the Giants had a chance to kick approximately a 66-yard field goal, but they opted to instead attempt a Hail Mary pass — which resulted in Daniel Jones being intercepted.
During pregame warmups, or when there’s a potential situation for an end-of-half kick, Gano said McGaughey and head coach Joe Judge might come up to him and ask, “Hey, where are you good from?” Gano said it was their decision to go for it instead of attempting a kick that would’ve tied Justin Tucker’s NFL record, which was set on Sept. 26.
“If you have to have it, yeah, absolutely,” McGaughey said. “But at that point in time, we didn’t have to have it. At the end of the game, absolutely. End of the half, no.”
When asked whether there was any hesitation, from either him or the coaching staff, before jogging out for the game-tying 48-yarder near the end of regulation, Gano chuckled. Experience in situations like those was why the Giants signed him, he said. That’s why McGaughey didn’t say anything to him after the earlier miss. That’s why the Giants’ special teams coach replied with, “Heck no, not with that guy,” when asked Thursday if there was any questioning in that situation.
And that’s why Gano said he knew that he needed to move on after the miss — there was nothing he could do to reverse things and change the lapse that emerged in his technique. He needed to make the next kick, a chip shot from 23 yards in the third quarter. That was the way to eliminate any possible hesitation consecutive misses might bring.
“Maybe if I was a lot younger, but nah, not anymore,” Gano said when asked about potential questioning. “You just go out and you just make the kick.”