CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Kyle Allen on Sunday became the first undrafted quarterback to start his career with four straight wins since Hall of Famer Kurt Warner in 1999, and he can thank Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey for it.
McCaffrey, you see, had his own brush with a Hall of Fame player in Sunday’s 34-27 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
With 237 total yards, the No. 8 pick in the 2017 NFL draft became the first player since Jim Brown in 1963 to total 175-plus yards from scrimmage in four of a season’s first five games.
McCaffrey’s total Sunday tied his single-game franchise record, set in Week 12 of the 2018 season against Seattle.
His 866 total in five games is second all time through the first five games, behind Brown’s 988 in 1963 and ahead of O.J. Simpson’s 861 in 1973. McCaffrey is the fifth player in NFL history to have more than 800 yards from scrimmage in his first five games.
McCaffrey was almost unstoppable until he limped off the field late in the fourth quarter with an injury that didn’t appear to be serious. His replacement, Reggie Bonnafon, came in for a 59-yard touchdown run to all but seal the team’s third straight win since an 0-2 start.
Allen’s road to tying Warner’s 4-0 start began in last year’s season finale at New Orleans. It continued when he replaced franchise quarterback Cam Newton, sidelined indefinitely with a left Lisfranc injury.
Warner went on to lead the St. Louis Rams to the Super Bowl. Allen is just keeping Newton’s spot warm until the former MVP’s injury is healed, but each win makes it less important to rush Newton back.
It could even lead to quarterback controversy. Allen, while not spectacular, has managed each game well. He has seven touchdown passes and no interceptions during his streak, including five touchdowns this season.
Again, thank McCaffrey, who is having an MVP season. He came into the game with an NFL-best 411 yards rushing and did nothing but add to his numbers. He had 176 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 19 carries to go with six catches for 61 yards and a touchdown.
History is in the making.
Chris Berman and Tom Jackson recap the weekend’s games with extended highlights and analysis.
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Troubling trend: Should that say “continuing trend,” since this made the analysis a week ago? Allen has fumbled six times and lost four in three starts this season. He lost another in the first half which was nullified by a penalty. The latest that counted came a week after he spent time in practice working on more effective ways to hold on to the ball. To put this in perspective, Newton had lost five fumbles since the start of the 2016 season before being shut down with a Lisfranc injury after Week 2.
QB Breakdown: In the battle between backups-turned-starters Allen (Panthers) and Gardner Minshew II (Jags), Allen wasn’t outplayed as much as he was overshadowed by McCaffrey. He made plays when he needed to, completing 17 of 29 passes for 181 yards, 1 touchdown and, most importantly, no interceptions.
Pivotal play: After McCaffrey limped off and the Panthers were faced with first-and-10 from the Jacksonville 41, the undrafted Bonnafon broke free for a 59-yard touchdown run off the right side. It was pivotal because the Jaguars had just pulled within a point on a field goal after the Panthers gambled with a fourth-and-1 run by McCaffrey from the Jacksonville 5 that was blown up.
Eye-popping NextGen stat: McCaffrey reached a maximum speed of 21.95 mph on his 84-yard touchdown run, his fastest speed this season.
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