DETROIT – Kicker Graham Gano had converted 28 consecutive field goal attempts entering Sunday’s game against the Lions at Ford Field.
But his league-leading and franchise-record streak came to an end in the building where his last missed field goal occurred.
After rookie wide receiver DJ Moore’s spectacular 82-yard catch-and-run early in the third quarter, quarterback Cam Newton was sacked on third-and-2 from the Detroit 4-yard line.
That brought Gano on for a routine attempt to tie the game 10-10, but his kick clanged off the left upright.
“Nothing really to take you through. Just a missed kick,” Gano said.
Gano was back out there early in the fourth quarter after wide receiver Curtis Samuel’s 12-yard touchdown grab tied the game at 13 with 9:23 remaining.
But Gano pushed the PAT wide left – his third missed extra point on the year.
“Obviously I’ve missed kicks before. I felt fine. Just missed those,” Gano said.
The two misses loomed large in a game that came down to a two-point try in the closing moments after Moore cut the deficit to one with an 8-yard touchdown reception.
Instead of sending Gano out there to attempt the game-tying extra point, head coach Ron Rivera opted for his offense to attempt a potentially game-winning two-point conversion.
Gano said he wasn’t surprised by that decision.
“That’s classic Coach. He’s playing to win the game,” Gano said. “I was confident I could go out there and make the PAT, but he played to win the game.
“It’s frustrating. This is a tough one. This is a game we should have won.”
Missed kicks are magnified in tight games, just like made ones – recall Gano’s 63-yard game-winner against the Giants.
Gano has been one of the most accurate kickers in the NFL, and he didn’t look or sound like a guy who’d lost any bit of confidence after Carolina’s 20-19 loss.
“I’ve been hitting the ball well. You never want to have a game like this, but it happens. I’ll work hard this week and bounce back. Still fully confident. I’ve been having a great year,” Gano said.
“Just got to keep kicking.”