CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Carolina Panthers were in a one-back, one-tight end, three-wide receiver set when Christian McCaffrey broke free for a career-best 84-yard touchdown run between the left guard and tackle in the third quarter.
In the last three games, he’s had 604 total yards from scrimmage — including three straight games of 179 yards or more — and five touchdowns. His 237 yards against Jacksonville tied a franchise record that he set last year against Seattle.
And much of it came on a play the Panthers ran over and over.
Pro Bowl defensive end Gerald McCoy agreed.
Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes and a few others might have a say in the MVP talk, but McCaffrey has set the stage for a run at the title Newton won in 2015.
The Panthers essentially ran variations of the same play over and over.
They ran from the formation used on the long touchdowns on 47 of 61 plays (77 percent) for 383 of their 445 yards, according to NFL Next Gen Stats. The play had a success rate of 51 percent, with an average of 8.15 yards per play.
Bonnafon didn’t want to get into team secrets, so when asked to identify the play, he jokingly called it “touchdown.”
It just shows that even the simplest of plays, when run effectively, can be dangerous. Add a player of McCaffrey’s talent to the equation and you’re going to have monster games like Sunday, even though cramps sidelined him late in the fourth quarter.
“He’s human,” Olsen said. “He gets tired like everybody else. But we got what we needed out of him.”
McCaffrey also leaped and flipped in gaining the final two yards of a 5-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.
“Christian amazes me every week doing something crazy,” said Carolina first-round pick Brian Burns, who returned a fumble 56 yards for his first NFL touchdown. “He just jumped over some guy and made that guy hit another guy. I’ve never seen nothing like it before.”