The Washington Redskins had yet another kicking game mishap on Sunday, as Graham Gano sent a kickoff out of bounds after being instructed to pin the New England Patriots deep in the left corner of the field.
On the kick, which followed a field goal that cut the Patriots’ lead to 7-3, the ball hit at the 3-yard line and then rolled out of bounds. The ball was placed at the New England 40-yard line, and the Patriots needed just two plays to score a touchdown.
It marked the second time in three weeks that Gano had kicked the ball out of bounds on a kickoff. And last week against the Jets, Gano was instructed to hit a bloop kick to an upback, in hopes that Josh Baker would fumble while trying to field the high-arcing kick, but Baker instead fielded it cleanly after Gano mis-hit the ball and didn’t get much hangtime on it.
Shanahan sounded on Monday as if he and special teams coach Danny Smith have learned their lesson, however, as he pointed out that following the out-of-bounds kick, the strong-legged Gano was instructed to simply blast the ball into the end zone and try for touchbacks.
“After you saw the first one that was kicked out of bounds, you didn’t see any other ones, did you? That should answer your question,” Shanahan said with a sheepish grin. “You don’t want to give anybody the ball on the 40-yard line. So if somebody can’t kick the ball in a certain area, you like a kickoff to be in a corner, it’s a little easier to cover. But if it gets close to going out of bounds, it obviously defeats the purpose. It happened one time and it was disappointing. It just missed it. It was just a hook, and the ball never got off the ground. That was the last time it happened during the game.”
Shanahan then praised Gano for doing well on the remaining kickoffs (the second-year pro recorded three touchbacks on the game.
“There wasn’t one more kick after that that was even close and I thought Gano did a good job of kicking the ball with good hangtime and some good distance after that,” Shanahan said.