CHARLOTTE – With sixty-eight seconds left, trailing the Giants 31-30, the Panthers offense knew it needed to move the ball quickly to give Pro Bowl kicker Graham Gano a realistic chance to win it.
A 20-yard completion to rookie wideout DJ Moore got the ball rolling. Then a 9-yard run by running back Christian McCaffrey led to Carolina calling its final timeout at the New York 46-yard line with 30 seconds left.
On third-and-1, McCaffrey powered ahead for just enough, but the clock was ticking and valuable seconds were vanishing.
Quarterback Cam Newton spiked it with 12 seconds remaining. At that point, safety Mike Adams nervously turned to assistant special teams coach Heath Farwell to see if a kick was possible.
“I asked the coach, ‘Where is the yard line we need to be?’ And he said, ‘We’re already in range,’” Adams recalled. “I said, ‘What?!’I was hoping we would get 10 more yards, but we were good.”
After an incomplete pass, Gano, who was 3-for-3 on field goal attempts already, trotted onto the field with six seconds remaining. The uprights were officially 63 yards away.
“I was terrified,” Moore admitted.
It was such a far kick, Gano got himself set on the other side of the field – the Giants’ 43-yard line to be exact.
“Knowing Graham, if we’re lining up to kick it I know we’ve got a shot,” guard Trai Turner said. “Let’s block this up, and let the chips fall where they may.”