CHARLOTTE, N.C. – We’ve become accustomed to LeSean McCoy putting up numbers that jump off the stat sheet.
Just not this way.
McCoy’s performance Sunday in the Buffalo Bills’ 9-3 loss to the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium was noteworthy for all the wrong reasons. The Pro Bowl running back was stymied time and again by the Carolina front seven, gaining just 9 yards on 12 carries – an average of 0.8 yards per rush. Never before has McCoy carried that many times in a game for so few yards. Not since he rushed six times for 2 yards against the Falcons as a rookie in 2009 has he been held to fewer yards per carry.
“I just did not play good,” McCoy said matter-of-factly after the game. “No excuses. I’m out there, and I gotta get it done. Didn’t get it done. I didn’t make the plays today.”
McCoy denied that the wrist injury he suffered in Week One against the Jets and aggravated at the end of the third quarter Sunday had any impact on his performance. Ditto for the groin soreness that saw him sit out practice Friday.
It was more what Carolina did to slow him than any physical limitation. The Panthers clearly made it a priority to shut him down as much as possible, and they succeeded in a way precious few teams have.
“He’s very dangerous,” Carolina coach Ron Rivera said. “That was one of the things that when we came in, we felt that we had to be very gap disciplined against him. When he went out into the routes, we had to make sure we had two, three guys coming to get him. We couldn’t let him get out there on his own. I thought we did a nice job with that.”
McCoy led the Bills with six catches for 34 yards, but several times didn’t win the one-on-one matchups in space we’re so accustomed to seeing him dominate.
“I’m used to stacked boxes since I’ve been playing,” he said of the Panthers keying on him. “Some plays I just didn’t do, I didn’t make the best of them. Some one-on-ones I should have made and didn’t make. I did not get going at all today. We were very, very slow in the first half, and I put that on myself.”
McCoy did go over 3,000 career receiving yards in the game, joining Darren Sproles, Frank Gore and Matt Forte as the only active running backs to reach that milestone. That, of course, provided no solace after such a miserable offensive showing.
“They’re a good group,” McCoy said of the Panthers. “They play well together. They’ve got good players, we’ve got good players. They’ve got star players, we’ve got star players. They won today. Give them credit. They’re a good team, a good defense. Simple as that – we just didn’t get it done. I really didn’t get it done.”
Without the running game to set things up for it, the Bills' passing attack also struggled. Buffalo gained just 176 yards, the fewest since the 2016 season opener at Baltimore.
"Part of our scheme is definitely running the football," quarterback Tyrod Taylor said. "We have to be able to run the football versus multiple looks. Today we weren't as successful as we want to be in the running game. Ultimately that helps open up the passing game."