The Big Headline
It was an entertaining battle that came down the fourth quarter, like so many games do in this league.
The Panthers, leading 28-24, had 3rd-and-1 from the Jacksonville 5-yard line when running back Christian McCaffrey tried a halfback pass. But the Jaguars defended it well to force the incompletion. Then, on 4th-and-1, McCaffrey was stuffed for a loss. Turnover on downs.
The Jaguars quickly took advantage, with running back Leonard Fournette rumbling 48 yards on the very next snap. But the Carolina defense forced Jacksonville to settle for a 38-yard field goal.
The Panthers took over and McCaffrey limped off after a 2-yard run. Enter backup running back Reggie Bonnafon, who raced 59 yards for his first career touchdown. But Joey Slye missed the PAT, leaving the visitors with a seven-point deficit.
The Jaguars moved into Carolina territory, but the rookie edge rush Brian Burns came up huge, strip-sacking quarterback Gardner Minshew as he was scrambling. Marquis Haynes made the recovery.
But Jacksonville got the ball back with 1:45 left after the Panthers were forced to punt. Minshew moved the Jags into Carolina territory again, setting up a shot at the end zone from the 24-yard line with no time left.
Luke Kuechly swatted Minshew's pass to the ground to give Carolina its first home win of the year.
Panthers take advantage of early turnovers
Heading into the game the Panthers had yet to capitalize on any turnovers this season, but that all changed during the first half versus the Jaguars.
After a botched exchange late in the first quarter between Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew and tight end Seth DeValve, Panthers safety Eric Reid recovered the ball deep in Jaguars territory. Three plays later, running back Christian McCaffrey was in the end zone after hauling in an 18-yard touchdown pass from Kyle Allen.
But the defense wasn't done yet. Next time, they decided to do it without the offense at all. On the Jaguars next possession, defensive end Mario Addison stripped Minshew and rookie defensive end Brian Burns scooped up the loose ball and returned it 54-yards for a touchdown.
Problem solved again.
Carolina's two takeaways in the first half combined with the offense's ball security helped the Panthers head into halftime with a 21-17 lead in a game that looked pretty even on the stat sheet.
McCaffrey does it all... again
Another week, another stud performance by CMC.
McCaffrey started things off with one of this most acrobatic scores yet, going up and over the Jags defense before tucking into a front flip for a five-yard rushing touchdown.
Later in the first quarter, McCaffrey hauled in the 18-yard catch-and-run, marking the third-year player's fifth career game with both a rushing and receiving touchdown. But he was still getting started.
Early on the Panthers' opening drive it looked like the Panthers might try to lighten McCaffrey's load, as back up running back Reggie Bonnafon took his first reps of the season. But you've got a weapon like McCaffrey in the backfield, it's pretty hard to keep him on the sidelines.
Case in point.
On the Panthers first offensive play of the second half, McCaffrey bolted between the tackles and dashed 84 yards for his third touchdown of the day, setting a new record for the longest run in franchise history.
Oh, and it was his own 76-yard record he broke. From two weeks ago. Just another day at the office for CMC, who is a legit MVP candidate at this point.