For the fourth time since joining the Redskins in 2009, Graham Gano jogged onto the field and nailed a game-winning field goal. And like so many other times in his young career, the big kick was preceded by an uneven performance.
Gano had a 30-yard field goal attempt blocked in the final minute of the first half, and he opened the second half with a kickoff that landed out of bounds. But when the game’s on the line, Gano seems to be at ease.
“I love them,” he said of pressure-packed kicks that decide a game’s outcome. “That’s the most fun.”
With only 1:50 left in Sunday’s game, Gano drilled a 34-yarder that gave the Redskins the 22-21 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.
Gano locked up the kicking job by going 10-for-10 in the preseason. But he missed a 39-yard attempt in the season-opening win against the New York Giants, and has hardly inspired unwavering confidence among fans.
“I hit 10 in a row in the preseason. Then everybody wanted to throw me under the bus after that first miss,” Gano said. “But I stay confident. It’s just one kick at a time.”
On Sunday he hit a 26-yard field goal in the second quarter to put the Redskins on the scoreboard. As the half was winding down, he was unsure what happened on the block but said the snap and hold were fine.
“After the block, I went up to Danny [Smith, special teams coordinator] and said we’re gonna have a chance to win the game on a field goal,” Gano said. “I just had a feeling it was going to come down to that in the end.”
As for the out-of-bound kickoff that allowed the Cardinals to open the second half on the 40-yard line, Gano took full responsibility. It was a directional kick aimed at the corner of the field, and Gano wasn’t helped by the wind at his back.
“That’s on me,” he said. “I got to keep the ball in play. ...I hit the ball well, just didn’t put it where it should’ve been.”