Gano, Helu reflect on Redskins record performances
ASHBURN, Va. (AP) - . Graham Gano's 59-yard field goal cleared the crossbar with little room to spare on the last play of the half.
He pointed to the sky with both hands - as he always does when he makes one - then nearly leaped out of his skin in celebration as he ran with his Washington Redskins teammates toward the locker room, his team trailing 13-3.
"I got some criticism for it, but I don't care," Gano said. "I love playing football. I love playing for this team, and I'm going to show how excited I am. I think people were saying because we were down, I shouldn't have been celebrating. But that's a momentum-shifter going into halftime."
The franchise that thrilled the NFL with Art Monk and Mark Moseley has new names at the top of two prestigious records. Gano's field goal is the longest in team history, and Roy Helu's 14 catches are the most by a Redskins player in a game.
But both came during a sour week, Sunday's 19-11 home loss to the San Francisco 49ers that extended the Redskins' losing streak to four and dropped the team's record to 3-5. Big plays at the end of the first half have indeed been known to shift the momentum, but Gano's didn't - and that's made it harder to enjoy.
"It takes a little bit away from it, just having the loss," Gano said. "I wouldn't say it's meaningless to me, but it definitely would have made a big difference had we won the game."
Gano had never made a kick longer than 50 yards in his two-plus seasons in the NFL, all with the Redskins. Moseley, the most revered kicker in franchise history and the 1982 NFL MVP, had a career long of 54 in 1977 that ranked atop the franchise list for nine years.
Moseley was no longer handling long kicks in his final season in Washington in 1986. He made a 36-yarder against Seattle on Sept. 28 of that year, the same game that usual punter Steve Cox nailed a 57-yarder that broke Moseley's record and stood until Gano's kick on Sunday.
Gano said he's made kicks as long as 70 yards working out by himself in Boulder, Colo. - "but it's cheating up in Colorado," he added - and has converted in the upper 60s at Redskins practices.
The longest field goal in NFL history is 63 yards, set by Tom Dempsey and since tied by Jason Elam and Sebastian Janikowski. The 59-yarder ties Gano for 10th on the all-time list.
The kick also helps solidify Gano's standing on the team after he ranked last in the NFL in field goal accuracy last season. He's 12 for 16 this year, but three of those were blocked. His only unblocked miss came in Week 1 against the New York Giants.
Helu's achievement is more of a statistical curiosity. The rookie running back snagged all those passes mainly because quarterback John Beck kept dumping the ball off, settling for screens and short tosses while the 49ers defense took away downfield throws.
Helu's yardage total was 105 - only 7.5 yards per catch - and only four receptions went for first downs. He actually gained 112 yards after the catch because so many of his plays were screens.
By contrast, Hall of Fame receiver Monk totaled 230 yards when he set the previous record of 13 catches in 1985, then tallied 168 yards when he tied the mark in 1990. In between, Kelvin Bryant caught 13 for 130 yards in 1986, a 10-yard-per-catch average that isn't great but is well ahead of Helu's.
Also, after one of his catches, Helu fumbled in Washington territory, setting up the 49ers' only touchdown. Perhaps that's why, when asked immediately after the game about the record, he said: "To be honest, I don't care."
"The stats look good, but I had the fumble," he said. "And that was the biggest difference in the game score-wise. Just can't have that stuff."
By Thursday, given more time to think about it, Helu was a more appreciative of the record - but realistic on how it came about.
"I think I recognized a couple of years ago that everything's temporary," Helu said. "This is nice to have, especially from an organization that's been established for so long, to pass someone like Art Monk. But it's also humbling, because in reality it's a bigger deal for a wide receiver to get that 12, 13 balls. That keeps me humble. I got check-downs, screens. It could happen to anyone."