The Panthers extended their winning streak to eight with a victory over the Dolphins in Miami in Week 12. Carolina played from behind throughout the contest, but was able slowly climb back and win on a touchdown pass from Cam Newton to Greg Olsen. For the majority of the game, the Dolphins were able manage the clock and control the tempo with Ryan Tannehill and stout defense. In the second half, the light came on for the Panthers who ran all over Miami with their running back committee and Cam Newton. The Panthers are just a game behind the Saints for the NFC South and have full control of the top wild card spot.
Kevin Nogle of The Phinsider believes the coaching staff needs to do something about the running game and special teams if the Dolphins are to contend for the playoffs:
Of course, the running game wasn't in existence yet again, with Tannehill leading the way with four carries for 36 yards. Daniel Thomas carried the ball three times for eight yards, and left the game with an ankle injury, while Lamar Miller was held to eight yards on ten carries. The Dolphins running backs averaged 1.23 yards per carry.
The Dolphins also need to consider replacing Marcus Thigpen as the return man. He consistently attempts to return kicks out of the endzone that he has no business returning. He averaged 19.7 yards per kick return on three tries.
Another disappointing loss for the Dolphins, when they had the game, and the playoff positioning, set for them. The team is still absolutely in playoff contention, thanks to a loss by the New York Jets this week as well, and two games against the Jets remaining, but a win this week would have put the Dolphins in the sixth seed, and set up the game next week to, effectively, kill any chance for the Jets. Instead, both teams will be in the knot of sub-.500 teams trying to find a way back into the playoff picture.
Jaxon of Cat Scratch Reader implies that this was a game of two halves:
The Panther offense struggled the entire game, mounting only two serious drives but both ended in the Dolphin end zone. WR Steve Smith made a couple crucial third down conversation and QB Cam Newton overcame an early INT to do just enough to extend the winning drive.
After giving up 16 points in the first half the Panther defense shut down Mike Wallace and the Dolphin offense. Though they didn't get a lot of pressure early they turned up the heat in the second half, including a key sack at midfield to end the game.
The Panthers will host the Buccaneers in Week 13, while the Dolphins will travel to The Meadowlands to take on the Jets.