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Sixty three yards! Panthers slip past Giants on Graham Gano’s game-winning 63-yard field goal

October 8, 2018

Graham Gano hit a 63-yard field goal with six seconds remaining to lift the Carolina Panthers to a thrilling 33-31 victory over the New York Giants, who had just taken the lead one minute prior.

It was a wild game that saw a disgruntled Odell Beckham Jr. throw a TD pass in the second quarter and catch a TD pass from Eli Manning that cut the Panthers’ lead to 27-24 midway through the fourth quarter. Earlier, Beckham muffed a punt at the Giants’ 3-yard line that Carolina’s Colin Jones recovered for the first touchdown in his 109-game career.

Beckham’s pregame displeasure over the number of deep shots the Giants take might have been quelled for the time being. But that won’t make this brutal Giants loss any more settling.

Early in the fourth quarter, the Panthers led 20-16. There were 28 points scored in the final 11:28 of game time. Cam Newton and Eli Manning combined for four interceptions, all coming in the final 23 minutes of the game. It looked close to over when Newton hit Christian McCaffrey on an 18-yard TD pass to make it 27-16, Carolina, but the sparks kept flying

Manning hit Beckham on a 33-yard TD pass (and Rhett Ellison on the two-point conversion) to cut it to 27-24, and Gano’s 39-yard field goal with 2:21 remaining bumped it back to 30-24. But Manning struck back once more, driving 75 yards on four plays and only 1:08 worth of clock. He found Saquon Barkley — who leaped into the end zone — for a 15-yard score.

But Newton hit D.J. Moore and McCaffrey on two quick passes, the Panthers used their timeouts well and gave Gano a chance. He didn’t miss; it was the longest in franchise history, tied the longest game-winning kick and was the second-longest make in NFL history. Matt Prater (64 yards) still holds the all-time mark for the kick he made for the Denver Broncos against the Tennessee Titans in 2013.

The Panthers moved to 4-1, with the Giants falling to 1-4.

The Giants have to have had deja vu. They lost on a 61-yard game-winning field goal by the Philadelphia Eagles’ Jake Elliott to fall to 0-3 last season. And for the Panthers, is this a sign of something special? After all, the Eagles ended up winning Super Bowl LII after that.

Of course, the Panthers will need to finish off bad opponents more summarily down the road if they want to get to Super Bowl LIII. This is a dangerous team that has taken an early division lead, and Newton has shown he can carry a team to the big game. Still, they have to feel as much lucky Sunday as anything else.

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