"[Graham] Gano is a very good kicker," NBC's Al Michaels said as the Panthers' specialist lined up for a 50-yard attempt late Thursday night that would've won his team's opener in Denver. Michaels was right in that assessment, too: Despite the struggles he had in Washington from 2009-2011, the 29-year-old has in fact evened out with the Panthers since leaving the Redskins, turning into a fairly reliable option.
Moments after that comment, Gano knocked his kick through the uprights, but the defending Super Bowl champions — following standard procedure in these types of situations — iced him. Perhaps those few extra seconds of thinking got to him, or maybe the somewhat high snap threw things off, but on the second go-round, Gano hooked his kick left, and, as a result, handed the Broncos a tight 21-20 win.
There are plenty of people to blame on the visitors' side, especially considering that the Panthers were up 17-7 at halftime on a quarterback making his first ever start. The hosts turned things around in the third and fourth quarter, though, seizing the lead with 9:30 left to go. A battered Cam Newton eventually responded by leading his offense downfield with time running out and setting up Gano's potential game-winner, but that valiant effort ended up being all for not.
Football's return reminded fans of a lot of things. Newton is good at dancing, for example, and Von Miller is good at stopping Newton from dancing, to name another. But after watching Gano's kick drift away from its intended destination, a common thought re-entered millions of brains.
A lot of the times, being a kicker doesn't look very fun.
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