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Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Articles tagged: Christian McCaffrey

10 NFL players who can carry their teams to the postseason

Marcus Mariota Titans

The NFL season is already halfway complete, which means the margin for error is getting slimmer by the day for teams teetering on the cusp of playoff contention. Many of those teams will need one or more players to step up if they want to reach the postseason.

With the exception of the NFC West, where the Los Angeles Rams and their 9-1 record have a comfortable lead over the Seattle Seahawks, most divisions are up for grabs. Here are 10 players who can help carry their teams to a postseason berth over the second half of the season:

Marcus Mariota, QB, Titans

Mariota played poorly for a stretch earlier this season, but it seems obvious that his struggles were a product of his elbow injury. Over Tennessee’s past two games, Mariota has a passer rating of 122.5 and has thrown for 468 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. His accuracy has improved with his health, and the Titans won back-to-back games because of it. Sunday’s win over the Patriots was a statement victory, and it was one of Mariota’s best games of the season. Fans have been waiting patiently for the former No. 2 overall pick to make the leap, and we may finally be witnessing him doing just that.

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Watch: Panthers score lucky touchdown on deflected pass

Cam Newton tie

Every bounce seemed to go in favor of the Carolina Panthers in the first half of their game against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, and none was more fortunate than the one that ended up in the hands of Christian McCaffrey.

To his credit, McCaffrey made an outstanding play. He high-pointed the ball in the end zone, but the pass was intended for wide receiver Devin Funchess and knocked away by a defender:

McCaffrey deserves credit for the athletic play, but Cam Newton got very lucky that it wasn’t intercepted.

Report: Christian McCaffrey’s controversial first down run was reviewed in New York

Giants Christian McCaffrey first down

The New York Giants were upset with the officiating crew following Sunday’s loss to the Carolina Panthers, most notably over the lack of replay on a controversial Christian McCaffrey first down in the final minute of the game. Apparently the play was reviewed, just not on the field.

The Panthers were down 31-30 and had the ball at the Giants’ 46 with 30 seconds left when they handed off to McCaffrey on 3rd-and-1. Replays showed that the star running back was close to the line to gain and may have even been short, but the game was not stopped for a review. According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, officials in New York reviewed the play and determined it could not be overturned.

It’s hard to overturn a spot, especially when there are so many bodies around and it’s almost impossible to tell exactly where the nose of the ball was. If you watch the play, you can see why it’s highly unlikely that the call on the field would have been changed.

The Panthers went on to win the game on a 63-yard field goal from Graham Gano two plays later. It’s understandable that the Giants were upset after what happened to the Cleveland Browns last week, but there was little to no chance the spot was going to be changed. That’s why replay officials in New York decided not to stop the game, though the optics may have been better if they had.

Giants upset over controversial first down call on Christian McCaffrey run

Giants Christian McCaffrey first down

The New York Giants are upset about the lack of a review on a controversial first down given to the Carolina Panthers on a run by Christian McCaffrey in the final minute of Sunday’s game.

The Panthers were down 31-30 and had the ball at the Giants’ 46 with 30 seconds left. They gave the ball to McCaffrey on a 3rd-and-1 play, and the back got close to the first down line before being pulled back and brought down well behind the marker.

Though McCaffrey was close to the line and it’s hard to say whether he got it, the officials awarded Carolina an immediate first down, allowing Cam Newton to spike the ball. The Panthers then won the game two plays later on a 63-yard field goal by Graham Gano.

Here’s the play:

The lack of a review by the officials to at least check the spot — especially after what happened to the Browns last week — did not sit well with the Giants.

Snacks Harrison thought the refs “jumped the gun” with the first down call.

Safety Landon Collins complained about “bogus calls” being made.

Many observers did not like the way the refs handled the matter.

There really isn’t much of an excuse for not at least reviewing or measuring the spot on that play when it was so close to the marker. The Giants have a right to be upset.

10 NFL players exceeding expectations in 2018

Patrick Mahomes

The NFL has offered up surprise after surprise this season, with a number of teams and players performing contrary to expectations. Several players stand out above the rest, off to great starts to 2018 despite the fact that not many people would have been expecting them to do what they’ve proven capable of doing.

Here are ten players whose 2018 seasons are off to great starts — better than many probably would have expected of them, in fact.

10. Myles Garrett, DE, Browns

Garrett played in 11 games in 2017 and collected seven sacks. That was impressive enough, but he’s taken a big step forward in year two that puts him ahead of what many thought his development curve would be. His four sacks — in only three games — are tied for the best mark in the NFL, and he’s helped the Browns’ defense become a rather fearsome unit. It’s safe to say he has even more room to grow now.

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Christian McCaffrey bothered by notion he can’t run between tackles

Christian McCaffrey

Christian McCaffrey had his best game as a pro in Sunday’s win over the Cincinnati Bengals, and the way he racked up his nearly 200 total yards from scrimmage seemed particularly satisfying for the former first-round pick.

McCaffrey has developed somewhat of a reputation for being a running back/wide receiver hybrid who isn’t all that effective when running between the tackles. On Sunday, he rushed for 184 yards on 28 carries. When asked after the game if he is bothered by the narrative that he can’t run inside, McCaffrey admitted he takes note.

“It definitely bothers me,” he said, per Jourdan Rodrigue of the Charlotte Observer. “But the more and more I go through this league, I learned that it’s never been about proving anyone wrong or proving anybody right. Just proving myself right.”

In Week 2, McCaffrey had the type of game that people have come to expect from him more when he caught 10 passes for 102 yards. While that is still worth bragging about, it seemed like he took more satisfaction in putting up big numbers on the ground this week.

“He’s obviously not just a receiving back, he’s a total running back,” Panthers quarterback Cam Newton told reporters. “He shows signs that this is not a fluke, he’s been doing this his whole career — collegiately as well as professionally.”

However you want to categorize him, McCaffrey is clearly emerging as one of the most dangerous offensive players in football. When you have a dual-threat quarterback who has someone like McCaffrey standing next to him in the backfield, game-planning becomes almost impossible.

Christian McCaffrey and brothers helped save man who fell on hike

Christian McCaffrey

Christian McCaffrey and his brothers and friends are being credited with helping to save a man’s life over the weekend.

McCaffrey, his brothers Dylan and Max, and friends Michael Mann and Brooke Pettet went hiking in Castle Rock, Col. on Saturday, according to a story published by the Carolina Panthers’ official website. As they were making their way to the top, they saw an older man fall about 20 feet and hit a rock.

The 72-year-old man, Dan Smoker Sr., had been hiking with his grandson and was in serious condition after the fall. Luckily McCaffrey and his group sprang into action. One person held Smoker’s head still while Mann performed chest compressions. McCaffrey called 911 to summon them to the emergency site.

Smoker was rushed to the hospital and doctors discovered he had multiple injuries. According to Panthers.com, the grandfather had a broken femur, broken pelvis, internal bleeding, bleeding on the brain, nine fractured ribs and a broken neck.

As of Tuesday, Smoker was in critical but stable condition.

Christian and his family have kept in touch to see the status of Smoker Sr. and even went by the hospital to visit him.

Smoker’s son, Dan Jr., who was in San Diego celebrating his wedding anniversary over the weekend, is crediting the group for helping to save his father’s life.