Final: Panthers 45, Dolphins 21
The Panthers’ rushing game played a big role in their blowout win over the Dolphins. They rushed for 294 yards and passed for 254. With this win Carolina improves to 7-3 and continues to compete with the Saints for the NFC South.
Fourth quarter: Panthers 45, Dolphins 21
Panthers 45, Dolphins 21 The Dolphins cut into the Panthers’ lead with a 9-yard pass from Jay Cutler to Jarvis Landry.
Panthers 45, Dolphins 14 The Panthers extend their lead with another touchdown pass from Newton to Funchess. Funchess has 92 yards, five receptions, and two touchdowns so far.
The Panthers continue to run the ball up and down the field with 232 total yards on the ground with 110 coming from Jonathan Stewart.
Third quarter: Panthers 38, Dolphins 14
Panthers 37, Dolphins 14 The Panthers extend their lead with a 2-yard TD pass from Newton to Christian McCaffrey.
The Dolphins’ defensive woes continue while the Panthers continue to run the ball with ease. Here’s a 69-yard run from Cam Newton (nice).
Panthers 31, Dolphins 14 The Dolphins cut into the Panthers’ lead with this crazy 66-yard TD run from Kenyan Drake. This is the Dolphins’ first rushing touchdown in nine games.
Panthers 31, Dolphins 7 The Panthers continue to pour it on with a 12-yard touchdown run from Cameron Artis-Payne.
So far the Panthers have 346 total yards on offense, with 143 of those coming on the ground.
Panthers 24, Dolphins 7 The Panthers are off to a hot start in the second half with a 28-yard TD pass to Devin Funchess.
Funchess had another big play earlier to jumpstart the drive.
Injury: Panthers wide receiver Curtis Samuel leaves game with looks like injury to his leg.
Second quarter: Panthers 17, Dolphins 7
Panthers 17, Dolphins 7 Carolina cashed in on the turnover with a 7-yard touchdown catch from Ed Dickson at the end of the half.
The Panthers went hurry-up with less than two minutes left, although it ended in a punt. The Dolphins had a chance to make something happen, only for Cutler to throw an interception to Luke Kuechly deep inside Miami territory.
Panthers 10, Dolphins 7 The Dolphins offense finally came to life and got inside the red zone, and a Panthers personal foul put Miami at the 5-yard line. A shovel pass to Julius Thomas got the Dolphins their first points of the game.
Panthers 10, Dolphins 0 Newton got his team down into scoring position with a couple of darts to Devin Funchess and Curtis Samuel. Jonathan Stewart split the middle of the Dolphins’ defense to get to the 14-yard line, and McCaffrey finished the job with a 4-yard touchdown run.
Miami made its way into Panthers territory, but nothing came of that drive and they punted it away for a third time.
First quarter: Panthers 3, Dolphins 0
It took until the end of the quarter before the Dolphins converted a first down.
Panthers 3, Dolphins 0 Carolina had its best drive of the game, getting close to the red zone. Newton appeared to throw a bad interception to T.J. McDonald, but it got overturned on review. Graham Gano got the Panthers on the board with a 40-yard field goal.
Offense has been hard to come by so far. The Panthers had a chance to break a huge play, but Russell Shepard committed a brutal drop with nobody around him.
Both teams punted on their opening possessions, although the Panthers had the more impressive drive with McCaffrey making plays in the open field.
Before the game
Thanks to a strange quirk of the NFL scheduling, this is the third straight week that the Miami Dolphins will be on prime time television, despite going 0-2 in that span. They’ll try to break their losing streak when they face the Carolina Panthers on Monday night at 8:30 p.m. on ESPN (live stream at WatchESPN).
The Dolphins started off the year with a surprising 4-2 record despite a painfully anemic offense, but things haven’t gone well in recent weeks. Jay Cutler sat out Week 8 with a rib injury and Matt Moore was terrible in a 40-0 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, the Dolphins’ second shutout of the season.
Cutler returned last week but couldn’t deliver a win. Despite having one of his best performances this season — 311 yards and three touchdowns on 34-of-42 passing — the Dolphins fell to the Oakland Raiders, 27-24. They also overhauled their running game, trading away Jay Ajayi at the deadline and promoting Kenyan Drake to the starting position.
Whether that shakeup will help the offense down the stretch remains to be seen, but the Dolphins are in a precarious spot at 4-4 and running out of room for error.
The Panthers also made a big move at the deadline, sending Kelvin Benjamin to the Buffalo Bills and replacing him with... nobody, really. Devin Funchess is the new No. 1 receiver, while rookie Curtis Samuel figures to see more playing time in the second half of the season.
Despite offensive problems of their own, the Panthers are 6-3 thanks to a strong defense and some Cam Newton heroics. Newton only threw for 137 yards last week, but he made the difference in a 20-17 win over the Atlanta Falcons, rushing for a touchdown that ultimately swung the game in Carolina’s favor. Christian McCaffrey also scored his first rushing touchdown of the year, though he continues to struggle between the tackles.
The Panthers are still behind the 6-2 New Orleans Saints in the NFC South, but they’re sitting pretty in the Wild Card race and a win over an average Miami team will strengthen their position. If the defense keeps playing up to its standards and Newton continues making plays, it won’t be hard to imagine the Panthers returning to the playoffs after last year’s Super Bowl hangover.
- Cat Scratch Reader looks at a few players who are stepping up, and some who are not.
Sunday represented probably the worst performance of Jonathan Stewart’s professional career. He fumble not once, but twice, and did so on consecutive drives almost bringing the Panthers chance of victory to a halt before they could get started. It was a good thing the defense was able to step up in a big way to flip the momentum in this game, or the team would have been embarrassed again at home. The team has to be thinking about the future at the position with Christian McCaffrey getting more traditional carries and Cameron Artis-Payne waiting in the wings and having been effective in limited usage.
- McCaffrey hasn’t lit the world on fire as a rookie, but he’s showing some encouraging progress as a runner.
The final run encapsulated McCaffrey’s growth as a runner. The Falcons just turned the ball over on downs and Carolina was attempting to run out the clock. McCaffrey receives the carry, which is designed to run between the gaps. He realizes there are no holes or alley to run through. Therefore, McCaffrey bounces the run outside and cuts it back inside. This was only a seven yard gain, but it showed how far McCaffrey has come. Earlier in the year he would have tried to run it through the middle. The result would have been a short gain or loss.
- The Phinsider previews five players who could end up deciding this game.
Just a week removed from being dominated by Oakland’s Jared Cook, [Kiko] Alonso will be one of the key players charged with the task of guarding the tight end on an opposing team who’s quarterback historically loves targeting his primary option at the position.
Alonso may also be called upon to help contain rookie Christian McCaffrey who is more of a threat as a pass catcher than a between-the-tackles running back as he leads the Panthers with 54 receptions while his 72 targets are tied for 12th-most in the NFL, regardless of position.