Christian McCaffrey becomes third player to join 1,000-1,000 club

Ben Weinrib
·Yahoo Sports Contributor

Christian McCaffrey has already established himself as the NFL’s most well-rounded running back, but the Carolina Panthers star put himself in elite company on Sunday.

In a loss to the New Orleans Saints, McCaffrey became the third player to ever record 1,000 rushing and receiving yards in the same season, joining Roger Craig (1985) and Marshall Faulk (1999). He's also the first running back to haul in 1,000 receiving yards in two decades, and the ninth to do so overall.

McCaffrey entered Sunday’s game with 1,361 rushing yards — he crossed the 1,000-yard threshold in Week 11 — and 933 receiving yards. That proved far more challenging.

McCaffrey looked like he might not reach the milestone.

Racking up 67 receiving yards doesn’t sound too hard in theory. McCaffrey had done it seven times this season previously, including five of his last six games. However, the Panthers’ offense could barely get off the ground at the start of the game.

Rookie quarterback Will Grier, in just his second career start, started 1-for-8 for 4 yards and an interception before being carted off with a foot injury. Yes, that one completion was to McCaffrey, but the All-Pro back didn’t seem likely to get his 67 yards with an overwhelmed Grier at the helm.

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Fortunately, backup Kyle Allen was far more effective in relief, completing eight of his first nine passes, including three to McCaffrey.

McCaffrey finally reached the milestone in very fitting fashion. With just under three minutes left in the third quarter, Allen scrambled and found him six yards down the field on a broken play. McCaffrey slipped a tackle and eventually picked up 17 yards, the exact amount he needed to finish with 1,000 yards and get a much-deserved congratulations from his teammates.

The Panthers honored McCaffrey with a video tribute on both scoreboards, and McCaffrey would go on to haul in one more catch — a five-yard pass to the right side to start the Panthers’ second-to-last drive.

McCaffrey finishes the season with a league-leading 2,392 total yards, which far out-paces second-place Nick Chubb (1,772). Perhaps next season he can aim for Chris Johnson's 2009 single-season record of 2,509 yards from scrimmage.

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey (22) runs the ball while New Orleans Saints free safety D.J. Swearinger (36) misses the tackle during the first half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)
Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey became the third player to ever record 1,000 rushing and receiving yards in the same season. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)

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