Carolina Panthers: Graham Gano leads to survival in trap game

FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 01: Graham Gano
FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 01: Graham Gano /

Graham Gano tied the NFL record for longest game-winning field goal at 63 yards to elevate the Carolina Panthers over the New York Giants in Week 5.

The idea of the “trap game” is alive and well as the Carolina Panthers nearly dropped a home game to the struggling New York Giants. The Giants came into this game with a 1-3 record as the Panthers were 2-1 and coming off a bye week. Even though things looked good for Carolina at the start, it took some late game heroics for the Cats to get their third win in a row at home.

10-year veteran kicker Graham Gano is the star after Sunday’s game. His 63-yard field goal to win the game is not only a franchise record for the Panthers, but ties the NFL record for the longest game-winning field goal in the league’s history.

Back in 1970, Tom Dempsey of New Orleans kicked a 63-yarder to beat the Detroit Lions. The current record for longest field goal ever is one yard longer as Matt Prater kicked a 64-yard field goal for the Denver Broncos back in 2013. Still, that wasn’t enough to take away Gano’s excitement with this moment.

“That was pretty fun, the fire and the smoke,” Gano said, per David Newton of ESPN. “I kinda felt like Cam [Newton] a little bit.”

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Newton should be one of the first players to thank Gano as he did not have an exceptional game against the Giants defense. Even though he completed exactly 60 percent of his passes for 237 yards, he threw two interceptions to go with his two touchdowns. This resulted in his final rating being a paltry 75.6. This is his first multiple-interception game of the season and his lowest completion rate to date.

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Still, there are multiple high points to take away for this offense. Led by Christian McCaffrey, the Panthers continued the trend of earning more than 100 yards on the ground, ending with 118 yards on 31 attempts. Passing wise, the Panthers were finally able to get rookie D.J Moore more involved as he caught four passes for 49 yards.

Curtis Samuel also made his first appearance for the Panthers this season and he caught two passes, one of which resulted in a 25-yard touchdown. With Greg Olsen reportedly returning next week, this is the continued development that everyone wants to see with this Panthers offense.

Defensively, the Panthers continue to struggle with mediocre play. They allowed the Giants to score 31 points; showing an inability to stop the Eli Manning led offense for much of the second half.

New York was an underdog coming into this game and hasn’t shown much to this point in the season. Yet, Carolina allowed them to hang around in a way that almost cost them the game at the final whistle. It will be interesting to see what changes are made to this unit as they prepare to face more powerful offenses throughout the year.

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At 3-1 the Carolina Panthers are one of the early surprises of the young 2018 season. In the next two weeks they finish off their play against the NFC East against the Washington Redskins and defending Superbowl champions, Philadelphia Eagles. Both wins are vital if they want to build the momentum needed to take the NFC South this season.