CHARLOTTE, N.C. – McCaffrey Mayhem proved better than Minshew Mania.
Just by a touch, but a touch was enough.
Carolina Panthers running back and NFL Most Valuable Player Candidate Christian McCaffrey ran through the Jaguars’ defense early and often Sunday, scoring three touchdowns and helping the Panthers withstand a Jaguars rally in a 34-27 Carolina victory in front of 72,762 at Bank of America Stadium.
Rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew II rallied the Jaguars from a 21-7 first-half deficit to within one point – 28-27 – in the second half. But three giveaways and a struggling run defense were too much for the Jaguars to overcome.
The Jaguars had a final chance in the closing seconds. A pass from Minshew to wide receiver Marqise Lee gave them a first down at the Panthers 34 with :19 remaining, but Minshew’s final pass from the 24-yard line was incomplete on a final, untimed down.
The Jaguars slipped to 2-3. The Panthers (3-2) won a third consecutive game.
Minshew completed 26 of 44 passes for 374 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions in his fourth career start. Wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. continued a standout second NFL season, catching eight passes for 164 yards and two touchdowns.
But Minshew lost three fumbles, with the first leading to a touchdown by McCaffrey and the second turning into a 56-yard return for a touchdown by linebacker Brian Burns.
Minshew’s third lost fumble ended a Jaguars drive when he was sacked at the Panthers 47 by Burns. The Jaguars had reached the Panthers 39 with 2:37 remaining and trailed by the final margin.
McCaffrey, who entered the game leading the NFL in rushing and total yards, rushed for 176 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries. He had a career-long 84-yard touchdown run to start the second half.
McCaffrey also caught six passes for 61 yards and a first-half touchdown.
Panthers quarterback Kyle Allen, also making his fourth career start, completed 17 of 30 passes for 181 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions.
The Jaguars registered three sacks Sunday, with defensive end Yannick Ngakoue getting two and defensive end Josh Allen adding one. Defensive end Calais Campbell also had a big play, blocking a 56-yard field goal attempt by Panthers kicker Joey Slye late in the first half to keep the Carolina lead at seven points.
*The Panthers took a 7-0 lead when McCaffrey scored on a five-yard touchdown run with 9:23 remaining in the first quarter, a drive that covered 78 yards to start the game. The Jaguars tied it immediately, with Minshew passing 37 yards to Chark to cap a four-play, 75-yard drive that made it 7-7 with 7:27 remaining in the quarter. McCaffrey’s 18-yard reception from Allen on a crossing route gave the Panthers a 14-7 lead with 1:35 left in the first quarter; the touchdown came three plays after Panthers safety Eric Reid recovered a fumbled exchange by Minshew at the Jaguars 24, a play that marked the Jaguars’ first giveaway in 29 drives. …
*The Panthers extended the lead and put the Jaguars in a difficult position when Burns returned a fumble 56 yards for a touchdown and a 21-7 lead with 13:32 remaining in the second quarter; Panthers defensive end Mario Addison forced the fumble by driving Jaguars offensive guard Andrew Norwell into Minshew, separating Minshew from the ball. The Jaguars stayed within range by scoring on the ensuing series, with Minshew capping a six-play, 83-yard drive with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Chark – and kicker Josh Lambo’s 35-yard field goal with 1:01 remaining cut the Panthers’ lead to 21-17 at halftime.
*McCaffrey made it 28-17 with his 84-yard touchdown run on Carolina’s first play after halftime. The Jaguars immediately cut the lead to four again with running back Leonard Fournette’s one-yard dive for his first touchdown of the season, a play set up by a 31-yard reception by Chark to the Panthers 1.
*The Jaguars cut the lead to 28-27 when Lambo converted a 38-yard field goal with 5:52 remaining, capping a drive that began when the defensive tackle Abry Jones and linebacker Najee Goode stopped McCaffrey for a two-yard loss on 4th-and-1 from the Jaguars 5. With McCaffrey having limped off on the ensuing series, Panthers running back Reggie Bonnafon’s 59-yard run with 3:34 remaining gave the Panthers a 34-27 lead.
Injury report: Jaguars tight end James O’Shaugnessy sustained a third-quarter knee injury and did not return. … Jaguars safety Ronnie Harrison sustained a fourth-quarter neck injury.
Notable: Nickel corner D.J. Hayden played Sunday after being placed on the injury report as questionable with a foot injury Saturday. Two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Jalen Ramsey as expected was inactive for a second consecutive game after being ruled out with a back injury Friday afternoon. … A.J. Cann started at right guard for the Jaguars, rotating with Will Richardson Jr. at the spot as he did the previous two games. …. Also inactive for the Jaguars Sunday: Defensive end Lerentee McCray (oblique), tight end Josh Oliver (hamstring), wide receiver C.J. Board, running back Tyler Ervin, offensive lineman Brandon Thomas and defensive tackle Dontavius Russell.
What’s next: The Jaguars will play the New Orleans Saints at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville Sunday at 1 p.m.