Graham Gano 56-yard field goal lifts Giants to home-opener win over Panthers

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New York Giants
New York Giants place kicker Graham Gano (9) kicks a field goal during the first half an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022, in East Rutherford, N.J.
AP Photo/John Munson

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The way the New York Giants and Carolina Panthers were getting a majority of their points on Sunday, it seemed more like a soccer match than an NFL game at MetLife Stadium. 

It was Graham Gano who was the Giants’ biggest offensive weapon as his 56-yard field goal with 3:38 left in the game proved to be the game-winner in a 19-16 win for New York. It was the culmination of a 13-play, 47-yard drive that broke a 16-16 tie in the fourth quarter. 

“It feels good. It takes a lot more than just me kicking it obviously,” Gano said. “It takes the whole unit getting down there. The guys getting down there. getting in range. I don’t see a whole lot that happens before the fourth down cause I’m warming up in the net. I heard there was some good effort to get us in range on both (scoring) plays.

“I’m just thankful for the opportunities and thankful coach trusted me to kick into the wind like that.” 

The Giants’ defense capped things off with a big stop on the following Panthers’ possession that saw a Julian Love sack on 3rd-&-6 on the Carolina 46 to end the offensive threat.  

The victory marked the Giants’ second consecutive win and the first time that they’ve won back-to-back games to start the year since 2016. 

The Giants’ defense held the Panthers to 145 yards in the air and limited running back Christian McCaffrey to 102 yards on the ground. And their ability to keep Carolina from capitalizing when they entered the red zone in the first half became crucial as the Giants’ offense was held to just one touchdown on the day with a majority of their points coming from Gano. 

Quarterback Daniel Jones finished the game completing 22 of his 44 attempts for 174 yards. His best sequence came during the Giants’ only touchdown of the game when he helped drive the team 75 yards down the field in the third quarter. 

“Whether you score a lot or not it’s important to figure out ways to win games,” head coach Brian Daboll said. “You can win a variety of ways. You can also lose it. The object of the game is to have one more win in the end and to give yourself a chance in the fourth quarter right where we’re at. We’re a young team that’s still developing. 

“We have long way to go, but I’d say we’re shuffling guys in and out. We’re trying to find the best combinations.” 

 The Giants struck first on Sunday. The building exploded when Carter Coughlin forced the Panthers to fumble the ball on the opening kick and Dane Belton recovered the ball. 

However, New York was held to just three points when Carolina forced them to kick a field goal on the ensuing drive that saw them move the ball four yards after recovering the ball on the 22-yard line. 

The Giants forced another fumble on the next drive when Darnay Holmes ripped the ball out of the hands of Robbie Anderson and Adoree Jackson recovered the ball. Jones moved the ball, getting the Giants down to the Panthers’ 2-yard line with a series of passes to Sterling Shepard, Kadarius Toney and Saquon Barkley. 

It was a 13-yard pass to David Sills V that put the Giants in the red zone and a short run by Barkley put them right on the goal line, but Jones lost yards on a pass and a sack that once again forced New York to kick the field goal. 

Carolina responded with a field goal of their own on the next possession as Mayfield took the Panthers’ offense 58 yards, which included back-to-back deep passes. However, New York’s defense held them off in the red zone and forced Eddy Pineiro to kick a 31-yard field goal. 

The Panthers evened the score in the second quarter after the Giants mustered a 45-second drive that gave the ball right back to the visitors with 5:19 left in the half. Carolina got down to the Giants’ 12, but Oshane Ximines came up with a big sack on Mayfield that cost them seven yards and two plays later Shi Smith dropped a pass that would have been a sure first down that forced the Panthers to kick the field goal again. 

New York Giants
New York Giants’ Daniel Bellinger, right, celebrates his touchdown with Richie James during the second half an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022, in East Rutherford, N.J.AP Photo/John Munson

But New York answered back with a touchdown of its own on their very next drive as Jones took his team 75 yards on 10 plays for the score. Jones found Richie James twice for 27 total yards on the drive, got a big run out of Barkley, and then hit Daniel Bellinger with a 16-yard pass for his first NFL touchdown to even the game at 13. 

New York and Carolina traded field goals one final time in the fourth to even the game back up at 16. 

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