VIDEO: Vernon Hargreaves shoves Christian McCaffrey out of bounds to seal Tampa Bay win
Christian McCaffrey is one of the most dangerous players in football with the ball in his hands. He’s especially effective in space, where he routinely uses an elite combination of burst and agility to embarrass would-be tacklers. But in a crucial moment on Thursday night against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Carolina Panthers star came up short.
To be fair to McCaffrey, he’s not perfectly isolated against Vernon Hargreaves. Push from the end of the line prevents him from having the option to cut back, essentially turning it into a foot race with the Buccaneers cornerback – one McCaffrey never had the angle to win.
Christian McCaffrey gets shut down inches short of the 1st down
Tampa Bay sends Carolina to 0-2 pic.twitter.com/CWac0ZoxNZ
— Eric Rosenthal (@ericsports) September 13, 2019
Hargreaves’ tackle loomed especially large, too, because it came on the most important play of the game.
With the Buccaneers leading 20-14 and the fourth quarter clock ticking below below two minutes, the Panthers faced a rare fourth-and-one from the Tampa Bay two-yard line. Rather than snap the ball to Cam Newton, who lined up on the right side of the line, McCaffrey was behind center – a first bit of deception meant to fool the Buccaneers. The following fake end-around was supposed to occupy defenders on the outside, but Hargreaves was never fooled.
McCaffrey is capable of the magic it would have taken to get positive yardage here. On this play, though, Hargreaves did exactly what his responsibilities entailed from the snap of the ball, then finished against one of the league’s best runners – and Tampa Bay has its first victory of the 2019 season as a result.