The Giants had a lot to consider when they lined up for a pair of 50-plus yard field goal attempts last week against Washington. Graham Gano’s confidence was not one of them.
"If you ask a kicker ‘Can you make it?’ they’re always going to tell you yes," special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey said.
The difference with Gano? He’s usually right. At least he has been for the past 35 times he’s trotted out onto the field to attempt a three-pointer for the Giants. That marks the longest streak of consecutive field goals made in franchise history and puts him in sight of the NFL record of 44 set by Adam Vinatieri.
Gano said he is aware of the numbers, but isn’t dwelling on it.
"It’s not something I’m really thinking about," Gano told Newsday this week. "I’m not very superstitious. I realize it, but it’s not something I have my mind set on. I just have to keep it going."
That’s good because as he gets closer to the record, the record might actually change. Gano is one of three kickers in the league who have active streaks of 30 or more consecutive field goals. Jason Myers of the Seahawks is at 36 and Nick Folk of the Patriots is at 33. Any of them has a chance to not only match Vinatieri’s all-time mark but exceed it.
It’s a little like Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire chasing Roger Maris’ record for home runs in 1998 -- minus the nationwide frenzy, of course. These kickers are performing their tasks as consistently as nearly anyone in football ever has – Gano’s streak is the sixth-longest in NFL history – but doing it mostly without fanfare and with few actually noticing. Kickers making their kicks usually just means it’s time for a bathroom break during the commercial. It’s when they miss that headlines are made and, in many cases, jobs are lost.
So why now are there three kickers who could be approaching or surpassing the record within the next month or so?
"I think you just have to give credit to those guys that are kicking," McGaughey said. "It’s not the easiest thing to do, obviously. I would venture to say that all three of those guys who have the long streaks probably have the consistent snapper and the same holder. When you can get that continuity, that makes a big difference…Guys playing together, the consistency, that part of it, that makes all the difference in the world."
Gano, who has had punter Riley Dixon as his holder and Casey Kreiter as his long-snapper for each of his kicks as a Giant, agreed.
"You can’t have any type of streak without good protection and good specialists," he said. "That’s helped me a lot being confident in those guys and it makes my job a lot easier."
He also noted that his position is changing.
"It’s highly competitive now," Gano said. "Guys are really good at what they do. You’re starting to see guys at a young age specializing in kicking the ball, which is pushing everyone and everyone is getting better."
It’s been more than a calendar year since Gano missed a field goal attempt. It was a 57-yarder against the Bears in Week 2 last season. He made his next 30 attempts in 2020 and then after not getting an opportunity in the opener was 5-for-5 against Washington with kicks from 23, 47, 52, 55 and 35 yards. It was only the 11th five-field goal game by a Giants kicker and the first since Josh Brown in 2014.
At some point Gano will miss. It might be before he gets to 44 straight to tie Vinatieri’s record. It might be before he gets to whatever the record is when he gets there. It might even be after he becomes the steadiest kicker in NFL history and holds the record himself.
"Anytime you are mentioned with Adam Vinatieri, and shoot, even Nick and Jason, it’s incredible," Gano said. "I’m definitely thankful to be in that company. I just go out there and try to do my job one kick at a time and go on from there."
Longest field goal streaks in NFL history
44 -- Adam Vinatieri, Indianapolis, 2015-16
42 -- Mike Vanderjagt, Indianapolis, 2002-04
40 -- Gary Anderson, San Francisco and Minnesota, 1997-98
36 -- Jason Myers, Seattle, 2019-present
36 -- Matt Stover, Baltimore, 2005-06
35 -- Graham Gano, Giants, 2020-present
35 -- Justin Tucker, Baltimore, 2015-16
35 -- Adam Vinatieri, Indianapolis, 2012-14