One of the few bright spots of Washington’s 19-11 loss to the San Francisco 49ers came in the final seconds of the first half, when kicker Graham Gano nailed a 59-yard field goal to make the score 13-3 at halftime.
Washington’s offense had failed to move the ball on its five previous first-half possessions. And with San Francisco throwing a zone defense at the Redskins in an attempt to take away the deep threat, John Beck and the offense had to settle for short passes underneath to move the ball downfield. But they ran out of time.
So facing third-and-10 from the San Francisco 41-yard line with three seconds left, Mike Shanahan sent out the field goal unit instead of calling for a shot to the end zone.
Gano came on and nailed the 59-yard attempt right down the middle to complete the longest field goal in franchise history.
“I was happy for him. It was a big, clutch kick,” Shanahan said of Gano. “It was against the wind, too. That was the only question mark I had. I thought it was right in his range. When he kicks 50 yarders, you can see when he kicks them, its usually good by 10 yards. He's been doing it pretty consistently in practice. We'll put him in situation where he kicks 50-52 yarders. It's at least an extra 10-15 yards. I was just happy he got an opportunity and he took advantage of it.”
Gano said he was hoping that he would get the opportunity to nail a long, clutch field goal a week after his kicking came under scrutiny from Shanahan when his 49-yard attempt was blocked by the Buffalo Bills.
Gano said that Shanahan and special teams coach Danny Smith had the field goal unit attempt a couple of 60-plus yarders in practice this past week. But he didn’t know if he would get the chance.
“I felt really confident, especially in the field goal group. This was our first kick since the blocked field goal, but we had a great week of practice and I was confident in the line blocking, Nick [Sundberg] holding and Sav [Rocca] holding,” Gano said. “It feels good. Coach is always talking about how you have to take advantage of the opportunities that are given to you, so I think no matter what the distance, they put me on the field, go score points. I’m glad I could pull through and we could get the three.”