Big plays remain "inches away" from Christian McCaffrey


Granted, coming close to making a play doesn't mean a whole lot if you don't make it. And the Panthers lost Thursday night in part because they didn't make these. But before we begin looking ahead to Week 7, it's worth pointing out how close Christian McCaffrey came to making a bigger difference against the Eagles. 

Even though the first-round pick scored his second touchdown in as many weeks and is on pace to potentially set the all-time reception record for a rookie, some are still wondering when he's going to make a huge play. He certainly was in position after lining up in the slot early in the fourth quarter:

Now let's fast forward to the Panthers' second-last drive when Cam Newton curiously heaved three straight deep balls. On the second, McCaffrey's route should look familiar because it's the one he ran above: 

"We felt we could come back to it," head coach Ron Rivera said Friday. "I liked the timing of it.

"If that ball's inbounds, we have a chance to make a play. Unfortunately, Cam threw it a little bit outside."

The Panthers still managed to buy themselves one more chance until their final drive stalled at the Eagles' 48-yard line. But while many have questioned why Carolina didn't use Newton's legs on fourth-and-one, imagine what may have happened if he didn't throw this ball too low: 

"(McCaffrey) made a good move, got inside his man and if we put the ball on him, it's a touchdown or at least it's a big play," Rivera said. "The other thing that happened, too, was they had one of their guys jump right in front of Cam so that Cam had to hold the ball a little bit longer than he really wanted to. 

"If Cam could have thrown that ball in a rhythm, he probably hits Christian with a chance to run. I know it's a game of inches, but that one was literally inches away from being a big play."

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