Carolina Panthers 33-31 winners as Graham Gano makes 63-yard field goal

FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 01: Graham Gano #9 of the Carolina Panthers celebrates with Michael Palardy #5 after kicking a 48-yard field goal during the fourth quarter to defeat the New England Patriots 33-30 at Gillette Stadium on October 1, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 01: Graham Gano #9 of the Carolina Panthers celebrates with Michael Palardy #5 after kicking a 48-yard field goal during the fourth quarter to defeat the New England Patriots 33-30 at Gillette Stadium on October 1, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) /

The Carolina Panthers needed a career best from kicker Graham Gano to secure a 33-31 win over the New York Giants.

From pretty much the time Carolina Panthers wide receiver Curtis Samuel caught his first NFL pass in 2018- and then gave practically the entire New York Giants secondary a chance to hit him for 25 yards before scoring- until Graham Gano’s 63-yard game-winner, there was a festive, solar-electric feeling in Bank of America Stadium. Giants fans can chew on their moral victory while going 1-4 and having to play Philadelphia Thursday night, and anyone who calls Gano’s boot ‘lucky’ in that thrilling 33-31 victory over New York wasn’t at the game.

The fannies were rewarded for staying the whole game and definitely out-cheering Giants fans at that point. They’d cheered loudly for many quality plays their team made in Charlotte which they haven’t previously made so far this year. Many predictions about the effect NYC sportswriters might have on getting Eli Manning off the dink-throw circuit and airing it out to Odell Beckham, Jr. and letting him earn some of that $95M wasn’t shared by ohh, more than every one of their fans in attendance.

"That boot would’ve been good even five yards further, easy.  There wasn’t a waver in its tracking. – Everyone in Sect. 524, 7th row upper bowl"

Nothing lucky about it, and earlier this year the Panthers showed recognition of Gano as a “Money” kicker- with a 96.7-percent success rate and Pro Bowl status in 2017- in tangible form with a 4 year/$17M contract after he’d been franchise tagged. In 2013, Gano was a perfect six for six over 50 yards, and during the Super Bowl year, he pumped in two 50 yarders in heavy rain against the Colts to save an unbeaten streak. That’s being clutch, not lucky.

Sunday was a terrific finish, winning beats the alternative for sure, but this game was never in the bag some thought when Carolina was up 17-3 after Beckham muffed a punt that Colin Jones recovered for a touchdown. Poorly as the Giants have been playing to be 1-3 coming in- or  having Beckham questioning some manhood’s during the week- that going downfield vs. dinking pass offense benefited from changes in philosophy and execution.

The Panthers defense doesn’t have to apologize for a one-sack performance, although… When it stuffed Saquon Barkley and the Giants run game at fifty, that will win you a lot of games. Although Saquon’s two receiving touchdowns caused New York fans to revel wildly in brilliant warmth that October football in Charlotte presents.

Beckham got 8/131, TD+1 passing, and if it’s possible for that to not look bad, it didn’t feel like James Bradberry got whipped. Hey, he draws the No. 1 guy every week, and Beckham is out front about having something to prove Sunday. Yes, we saw gaps in coverage, Mike Adams was the deal with those picks, and it looks like Rashaan Gaulden can be counted on in all situations now.

Examine the pieces of offense, it kept moving the sticks

Quarterback Cam Newton looked solid, right on 60-percent and spreading it around-  21 for 35, 237 yards, 2/2 TDs-INTs. If he didn’t feel he’d played all that great, no problem with that attitude from your leader.

Funchess 4/53, and a 21 yard tip-toe and drag on Panthers drive that finished with Curtis Samuel’s dynamic 25 yard score. Funchess’ totals aren’t killing it, but point has always been TARGETS making catches, and he’s working sidelines magnificently as a possession receiver. Rookie D.J. Moore had five catches for 67 yards, that run for 18—and he’s going down on punts? Special teams have learned that it makes a difference to send the best against just anybody.

Newton was smiling large about laying the lick on Kareem Martin, a 6-foot-6, 265 pound linebacker vs. taking said licks when Moore needed a block on his way to gaining 18 yards.  Moore’s rep for being tough to get on the ground, flashed against Buffalo in preseason, starts here and now. Coach Ron Rivera and offensive coordinator Norv Turner have said repeatedly they wanted to do more with him, and Moore had no problem cutting up inside when the space outside Newton’s block was clogged.

After talking to bunches of people before the game regarding Christian McCaffrey‘s workload here vs. as a sophomore at Stanford, when he set the NCAA record for combined yardage in a season: He had 337 *carries* and was running back kicks and punts. Don’t worry, he’ll be fine with whatever the Panthers need. ‘Only’ 58 yards rushing, plus five catches for 38 yards, one a 27 yard touchdown that keeps his reputation growing.

Special team scoring (Colin Jones) On that muffed punt by Beckham, he wasn’t watching because he was trying to get a shot on Moore as a gunner on punts and it bounced off his leg.

‘One of those games’

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Consider this ‘one of those games’ where discipline and working the plan bring a desired team result. Nobody had dazzling stats like Beckham’s eight catches for 131 yards and touchdowns as both a receiver and passer, but otherwise, even Manning’s 326 had a pair of interceptions to balance the longer throws, he’s always done better than on accuracy.

Front seven only had one sack, Thomas Davis will be back against Washington this week- How significant will those two facts be? Shaq Thompson moved to an outside rush position and knifed through to take down Barkley for a 5 yard loss early, but count on Davis to be highly motivated.

Throughout training and into season, questions about offensive line were frequent, but they’ve kept Newton remarkably clean in the pocket (just one sack this week).

For Giants fans,  they saw numerous good plays, things hoped for and possibly more than expected. Two deep-dyed Giant fans at church said they wouldn’t pay to see them this year, so maybe there is hope for stopping Giant Fever.

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That’s not how 99-percent felt at the stadium though, and when giving up a special teams touchdown didn’t prove fatal, give credit to the diaspora, they gave energy without reservation up until Gano’s kick ended the game.