GREEN BAY, Wisc. – It's a game of inches.
Sunday's game against the Packers at Lambeau Field came down to the final play with Carolina trailing 24-16. The Panthers called McCaffrey's number from the 2-yard line with four seconds left and no timeouts.
"I love the play call," quarterback Kyle Allen said. "I think if you saw it at the snap, there was a hole there and Christian is the best player on our offense. He's touted as an MVP, so last play of the game on the 2-yard line, let's give him the ball."
Allen took the shotgun snap and handed it to McCaffrey, but there was instant penetration from linebacker Kyler Fackrell, who got the better of left guard Greg Van Roten and disrupted McCaffrey in the backfield.
As a last resort, Van Roten tried to push McCaffrey across the goal line, but the officials ruled him short after taking the time to review.
"It would have been a lot easier if I just blocked my guy in the first place so Christian could have walked in," Van Roten said. "I just turned around and tried to grab him. Just too hard to tell on replay whether he made it or not."
For McCaffrey, it's the second time this season where a game has ended with him coming up just short. Carolina's Week 2 loss at home to Tampa Bay was similar in that regard.
This time it was Van Roten taking the blame for the play's outcome. But McCaffrey always expects to make something happen when the ball is in his hands.
"It was tough," McCaffrey said. "Just got to get in in that situation."
It was a drive that started at their own 11-yard line. It took a conversion via tight end Greg Olsen on third-and-5 and another via wide receiver DJ Moore on fourth-and-10 to stay alive.
And with the snow coming down and the wind swirling, the Panthers were two yards away from a touchdown and a two-point try that could have sent the game to overtime.
They never got that chance.
"Kyle did a great job. Receivers made a bunch of big plays. Just got to finish," McCaffrey said. "Just got to move on. Got to move on and get better."