All Graham Gano needed to do to ice the game with 4:40 remaining was make a lousy extra point.
But in true Carolina Panthers style, Gano shanked it.
Cam Newton's 2-yard rushing touchdown put the Panthers up 30-22 against the banged-up Philadelphia Eagles' JV squad in Week 12 with less than five minutes remaining. A simple extra point would have put the Panthers up nine points in the closing minutes, but Gano pushed the kick right, keeping the door open for an Eagles' comeback.
Fortunately for Carolina, Philadelphia return man Brandon Boykins fumbled the ensuing kickoff and the Panthers recovered, sealing a rare win for this year's disappointing team.
Gano - the NFL's Worst Kicker
Carolina signed Gano last Tuesday after waiving former kicker Justin Medlock who had missed his last three field goal attempts.
There was a reason Gano was available: Over the last two seasons Graham Gano has been the NFL's worst kicker.
Gano began his career in 2009 with the Washington Redskins and attempted just four field goals as a rookie. But in 2010 and 2011 he saw his workload increase and connected on a combined 55 of 76 (72.4%) of his attempts with the Redskins.
The problem for Gano and Washington is that Gano's 72.4% over the last two years was the worst in the league. Of the 38 kickers who attempted at least 16 field goal attempts in 2010 and 2011, none had a lower percentage than Gano.
The Redskins waived the inconsistent kicker prior to the 2012 season.
No other team had signed Gano 11 weeks into the season until the Panthers called. After his ominous debut, they may be rethinking their decision to pick up the phone.
A Shaky First Impression
Gano's shaky first impression is a bad sign for the Panthers.
Carolina has been inept at closing out games since Ron Rivera took over as head coach last year and the last thing the team needs is an inaccurate kicker making it even more difficult to seal victories late in the game.
As I have previously written, Carolina's special teams are among the worst in the league even after replacing their special teams coordinator, signing a new kicker, and drafting a new punter and new punt returner.
Graham Gano is the Panthers' third kicker in less than two years after Olindo Mare and Justin Medlock before him were released for their inability to deliver in the clutch.
If nothing else, Carolina has proven they are not shy about giving the hook to a struggling kicker.
If Graham Gano continues to kick like he did in his first game as a Panther, he'd better watch out.
The hook may be coming soon.
Andrew Sweat is a die-hard Panthers fan. For more from this author, visit Andrew's archive or check out these articles:
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- Graham Gano
- Carolina Panthers
- Philadelphia Eagles
- Justin Medlock