• 54°

McCaffrey hears ‘MVP’ chants after Panthers’ 30-20 win

By STEVE REED
AP Sports Writer

CHARLOTTE — As Christian McCaffrey raced 58 yards to the end zone for his third touchdown of the game, chants of “MVP! MVP!” echoed throughout Bank of America Stadium.
“Well deserved,” said Panthers quarterback Kyle Allen.
McCaffrey turned in yet another spectacular stat line Sunday, amassing 166 yards from scrimmage and averaging 6.1 yards per carry to help Carolina beat Tennessee 30-20 and end the Titans’ two-game win streak.
Halfway through the season, the third-year running back leads the NFL with 1,244 yards from scrimmage and 13 touchdowns and has put himself firmly in the hunt for the league’s top individual honor.
“He’s the heart and soul of our offense and the heart and soul of our team,” Allen said. “Three touchdowns today. … Those plays change the game — and he does that week in and week out.”
Titans safety Kenny Vaccaro called McCaffrey “elite.”
“It’s not like it’s a fluke,” Vaccaro said. “He does it all of the time.”
McCaffrey might have been even more productive had he not left the game midway through the fourth quarter after hitting his head on the ground at the end of that 58-yard run when he was tackled crossing the goal line. He was evaluated for a concussion and was cleared to return to the game but did not.
McCaffrey said he was “fine” afterward, and coach Ron Rivera said he just wanted to “be smart” with the Panthers up 16 points.
McCaffrey said he heard the MVP chants even as he was shaking off the collision.
“That was pretty cool,” McCaffrey said. “We have a lot of ball left. But I’m very appreciative of that.”
The victory was a big one for the Panthers (5-3), who were looking to erase the memory of a 51-13 loss to the San Francisco 49ers last week. A year ago, the Panthers suffered a 52-21 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers and went on to lose seven straight games, knocking them out of playoff contention.
Rivera was determined not to let that happen again this year and talked all week about doing it with “actions, not words.”
Rivera lived up to his own words, twice showing confidence in his players to make plays in crucial situations.
He went for it on fourth-and-2 early in the game, a gamble that resulted in a 7-yard touchdown pass from Allen to a wide-open McCaffrey, who had released out of the backfield and into the flat uncovered.
And in the third quarter Rivera signed off on a fake punt on fourth-and-4 from his 36 that swung the momentum to Carolina.
Colin Jones, who plays safety and on special teams, took a direct snap from long snapper J.J. Jansen and plowed ahead for a first down.
The call came at a pivotal time as the Titans had just drove 67 yards for a touchdown to cut Carolina’s lead to 17-7 and stopped the Panthers on three plays to open the second half. But Jones’ first down ignited the Carolina sideline, and the Panthers would cap the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run by McCaffrey.
“I’m thinking, ‘Give me the rock,'” Jones said. “I looked up on the scoreboard and saw ‘Jones: 1 carry for 5 yards.’ I had to make sure I had a better average than Derrick Henry.”
Henry finished with 99 total yards and two touchdowns for the Titans (4-5) and averaged 4.8 yards per carry.
But the Titans could never overcome the 17-point halftime deficit and were eventually thrust into full passing mode.
“We came out with urgency to get going” in the second half, Titans coach Mike Vrabel said. “The offense moved the football, converted on third down. We ran the football. Guys were finishing. In the end, we’re spotting teams too many points.”

BATTLE OF BACKUPS
Allen, who threw three interceptions in last week’s loss to the 49ers, threw for 232 yards and two scores to improve to 5-1 this season as Carolina’s starting QB and won the duel of backup quarterbacks.
Titans QB Ryan Tannehill threw two interceptions and was sacked four times.

NEWTON’S STATUS
Rivera said the Panthers will approach Cam Newton’s rehab the same as they have been after the QB received a second opinion on his injured left foot Friday. Rivera said it’s a “gradual process” and “until we are told any different from the doctors we will continue to do what we’ve been doing.”
Allen will start next week at Green Bay, Rivera said.

REMEMBERING ADDISON
Members of the Panthers defense placed defensive end Mario Addison’s jersey on the bench before the game. Addison did not attend the game because he’s still dealing with the death of his brother, who was killed last Sunday in Birmingham, Alabama.
“It’s a very difficult time one of our guys is going through and a lot of these guys want to be there for him,” Rivera said.

SUCCOP MISSES 3 FGS
The Titans added kicker Ryan Succop to the roster this week and he missed all three field-goal attempts of 43, 56 and 44 yards.

INJURIES
Titans: Titans CB Malcolm Butler injured his left wrist late in the first half after Curtis Samuel landed on his arm after making a touchdown catch. He did not return to the game and Vrabel did not have an update on the injury after the game.
Panthers: Cornerback James Bradberry injured his groin late in the game and did not return.
UP NEXT
Titans: Host the Chiefs on Sunday before getting a bye.
Panthers: Travel to face the Packers on Sunday.
___
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

Comments

News

Catawba College hosts three in-person commencement ceremonies

Local

With high case loads causing numerous staff departures, Child Protective Services seeks more positions

Education

Livingstone College graduates celebrate ‘crossing the finish line’ during commencement celebration

Coronavirus

Rowan sees 4 new COVID-19 deaths as mask mandate lifted, vaccines administered continue decline

Local

Spencer is latest town updating its development ordinance

Local

Salisbury native Kristy Woodson Harvey makes NY Times bestseller list

Local

Board of Commissioners will convene for third time in May

Business

Biz Roundup: Salisbury, Kannapolis among recipients of Region of Excellence Awards

Local

Cheerleading team competes at Disney

Education

Salisbury High to celebrate football, swimming champions with parade

Local

Spencer awarded $10,000 to develop trails at Stanback Forest

High School

High school girls soccer: Isley, Webb lead all-county team

Books

‘Tails and Tales’ coming to library this summer

Local

Public Records: March Deeds

Entertainment

Salisbury Symphony’s ‘Return to the Concert Hall’ available May 24-31

Coronavirus

Salisbury teen becomes one of first in age group to receive COVID-19 vaccine

Business

Down Goat: Local farm and creamery poised to add goat yoga, artisan goat cheese to offerings

Local

Pandemic’s impact, uncertainty of transit funding prompt request to eliminate Rowan Express service

Lifestyle

New Waterworks’ exhibit opens June 1

High School

High school football: Walsh accepts the South football challenge

Lifestyle

Price of Freedom Museum gets donated landscape project

Lifestyle

Rowan Museum will have Upscale Yard Sale Saturday

Business

Seventh dragon boat festival set for July 24; deadline for sponsorships is May 28

Nation/World

‘Shocking and horrifying’: Israel destroys AP office in Gaza