By STEVEN TARANTO
(247 SPORTS) – As the Carolina Panthers’ season begins drawing to a close, running back Christian McCaffrey is putting the finishing touches on a season where he has set all sorts of personal records and begun shaping the Carolina Panthers’ record books to his will. In Sunday’s match against the Atlanta Falcons, McCaffrey has set two of his latest milestones – including one that will surely be a very popular one in the McCaffrey household.
In the third quarter against the Atlanta Falcons, McCaffrey recorded his 103rd catch of the season, which broke Chicago Bears great Matt Forte’s NFL record for the most receptions by a running back in a single season. Forte had set the previous record during the 2014 season, when he caught 102 passes for 808 yards and four touchdowns. McCaffrey’s 103rd catch also tied Steve Smith’s franchise record for most catches by a single player during a Panthers season in team history – He would surpass that mark in the fourth quarter, catching his 104th pass to stand alone.
Not only is McCaffrey putting distance between himself and the century mark, but he has also surpassed the reception total that his father, former All-Pro wide receiver Ed McCaffrey, had in his best season ever. Christian McCaffrey’s reception total now exceed his father’s mark of 101 catches in a single season, which he had in 2000 when playing for the Denver Broncos. That season, Ed McCaffrey’s 101 catches went for 1,317 yards and nine touchdowns.
On this Sunday, McCaffrey and his team are pitted in a fairly even battle with the Atlanta Falcons, another team that had high hopes for their season derailed by injuries. But on the very first play of the second half, the Falcons blew the game wide open, taking advantage of a blown coverage on Calvin Ridley to score a 75-yard touchdown. The Panthers are now looking to try and erase a 14 point deficit after yet another deep touchdown by the Falcons.
Unfortunately for them, they will likely have to do it without their Pro Bowl right guard. Trai Turner has been ruled doubtful to return to Sunday’s game due to an ankle injury, and Tyler Larsen has taken his place.