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Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey dives into the end zone.

CHARLOTTE — On a day of honor for the Carolina Panthers, no player showed more respect for his elders than Christian McCaffrey.

On a day when four former Panthers were inducted into Carolina’s Hall of Honor, the third-year running back continued his own quest to one day rewrite the entire Panthers records book.

In the 34-27 win over Jacksonville, a huge win for Carolina, McCaffrey ran for 176 yards and two touchdowns and had 61 yards receiving and another touchdown to possibly reserve his own spot on the stadium wall.

On one play, it looked as if he might fly to the top of the stadium, somersaulting over a defender and landing in the end zone. He didn’t quite stick the landing.

“I wasn’t thinking anything,” McCaffrey said. “It was split-second. I was trying to get into the end zone and land graciously.”

The play was one of many in a highlight reel of an afternoon for a player who has emerged as one of the most dynamic in the game, maybe in a long, long time. And it was fitting it happened on a day when the team honored a group of former players.

A near-capacity crowd watched a halftime ceremony in which Wesley Walls, Steve Smith, Jordan Gross and Jake Delhomme joined Sam Mills as the only former players honored by the franchise, now in its 25th season.

McCaffrey is chasing that honor now, but he’s also running down some of the greatest running backs ever.

So much for trying to preserve him.

Carolina unleashed No. 22 on the Jaguars. McCaffrey carried the ball 19 times, caught six passes and even threw one, gaining 237 total yards and becoming the third player in modern NFL history to have five games with at least one rushing touchdown and one receiving touchdown in his first three seasons

Alvin Kamara, Edgerrin James and Chuck Foreman are the others.

In a larger perspective, McCaffrey joined one former NFL player as the only runners to have more than 175 yards in offense and a touchdown in the first four of five games in a season. It last happened in 1963.

It was Jim Brown.

“It's hard to put into perspective,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said of McCaffrey. “He’s a guy who plays the game with such passion. We’re lucky to have him.”

Rivera himself became the winningest coach in Panthers history, winning his 74th game and passing John Fox. While Carolina was honoring players and breaking records, Luke Kuechly recorded his 1,000th career tackle, the first player ever to do it in eight seasons.

And while Smith, the former wide receiver, lobbied to have his No. 89 jersey retired in the halftime ceremony, it’s apparent that the Panthers have at least two players headed for the same distinction.

Kuechly said it was all about the big guys in front of him. Rivera thanked ownership and his family. McCaffrey thanked all his teammates for making it look easy. Which, in a sense, it was. Carolina ran the same offensive play over and over, a play that started with a receiver in motion and a counter handoff through a gaping hole.

“We used the same play a lot,” McCaffrey admitted. “If it's not broke don’t fix it.”

On one of those plays, he described how he set a team record with an 84-yard touchdown run.

“I got the ball to the left, hit the hole and ran,” he said.

Not broke.

Carolina won at home for the first time since last November, ran its record to 3-2 and prepared for an international flight to London, where the Panthers will play NFC South rival Tampa Bay for the second time in five weeks.

They’ll likely go with quarterback Kyle Allen, who in a reserve role, has never lost an NFL game. He’s writing his own history in the absence of someone whose name did not come up today.

On a day in which the Panthers honored some of their greatest former players, and some of their greatest current players and coach made their own history, Cam Newton’s name wasn’t mentioned.

It was indeed a day of firsts.

But it won’t be the last time we see No. 22 running toward the stars, hoping to stick the landing.

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Contact Ed Hardin at 336-373-7069, and follow @Ed_Hardin on Twitter.

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