Despite a slow start, Cam Newton and the Panthers squeezed out a late victory against the Miami Dolphins Sunday afternoon.
(Photo credit: USA TODAY Sports)
The Carolina Panthers played about 55 minutes of ugly football in their matchup with the Miami Dolphins Sunday afternoon. But down just three with the fourth quarter dwindling down, they only needed to be pretty for four minutes and 13 seconds. Cam Newton made sure they were.
Newton led the Panthers offense to a three and a half-minute, 72-yard scoring drive that ended in a touchdown pass to tight end Greg Olsen. Olsen’s touchdown (his fourth in his last five games) gave Carolina a 20-16 lead they would not relinquish in the remaining 43 seconds.
Cam finished with 174 yards, completing 19 of his 38 attempts with a touchdown and an interception. He also contributed on the ground, rushing for a game-high 51 yards to go along with a rushing touchdown. Newton punched it in seven minutes into the third quarter to cut Miami’s 16-3 halftime lead to just three.
Linebacker Thomas Davis led the Panthers’ second half shutout of the Dolphins. Davis racked up six tackles, a sack and pass deflection. Fellow linebacker Luke Kuechly added six tackles of his own in the effort.
The victory brings Carolina’s win streak to a franchise-record, seven games. The Panthers (8-3) will host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-8) in their Week 13 contest next Sunday.
Three Up (by Anthony Rizzuti)
1. Clutch Cam
In the six-game win streak that included wins over San Francisco and New England, Cam Newton solidified his spot amongst the NFL’s star quarterbacks. And although he didn’t get off to a hot start against Miami this afternoon, Newton was good enough when he needed to be.
Whether it was the helmet-to-helmet hit from Cameron Wake on the first drive or just “one of those days,” Newton was faced with the task of shaking off a rough first half to overcome a 13-point deficit. Not only did he do that, but Cam also showed us that he’s more than just sexy statistics in his second consecutive game-winning drive.
2. Take a Stand
To be frank, the Panthers’ defense was just as sloppy as their offense in the first half of the game. They chalked up just one sack against a putrid offensive line, allowed the struggling Mike Wallace to burn them for two long (53-yard and 57-yard) completions and made Ryan Tannehill look like a seasoned vet.
To their credit, however, Sean McDermott and his boys goose-egged Miami in the second half to keep the Panthers in the game. The run defense, which allowed just 52 yards to the Dolphins on the ground, limited Miami’s chance of running clock with the 13-point coming out of the half.
The Panthers defense now ranks first in points allowed by nearly three on Kansas City with 13.7 per game.
3. Shula Called It (In the Second Half)
To be completely honest, I was struggling to find any positives for this “Three Up” piece. In fact, I was very close to saying “at least they looked pretty good in those black uniforms under the Miami sun,” as one.
But just like it did in picking up the victory, the second half and final drive brought about some major positives—one of which being Mike Shula’s play-calling.
The first 30 minutes of this game were eerily similar to the 22-6 loss in Arizona eight weeks ago. The offensive was stagnant and did not receive any help from Shula in that second half. This time, however, Shula adjusted his gameplan accordingly to squeeze out a few touchdowns.
His call, in particular, on Olsen’s touchdown reception was easily his best of the game.
Three Down (by Joe Riollano)
Panther fans were “treated” to another game winning drive late in the game by Cam Newton and company. If nothing else it sure is exciting. This was my fear coming into the Dolphins game. Really, I was hoping for this. I thought we needed a tough win or even a close loss the get our focus back. It was a “hangover” game from Monday nights big win over the New England Crybabies, I mean Patriots. I can’t think of a better run of big wins by a Panther team than what we have been privileged to this season. On that note, here are my three down from Sunday’s stress test against Miami.
1. Captain Munnerlyn
What the heck man? If you can’t cover him, TELL SOMEBODY!!! I knew Mike Wallace was fast, but man he made Captain look like he was standing still. Twice he got behind the Panthers defensive back and late in the game he got behind them again and almost made the game really interesting. This is the second week in a row that our secondary has been exposed, and the second defender picked on by the opposing quarterback. Against New England it was defensive back Melvin White who was abused. This is reason for concern with Drew Brees and the Saints high power offense still on the schedule, twice.
2. Mike Shula
Not sure why he wants to turn Cam into a pocket passer. I know Miami was trying to minimize the running game and force Carolina to win with Cam, but I just don’t understand why he abandons the running game. He did go back to it at the end of the first half, and Carolina’s offense moved the ball very effectively. The difference I saw was the Panthers ran the ball outside and they were effective with it. Again, late in the game, on the runs by Mike Tolbert the ran outside run plays and it worked for good yardage. I think Shula has done a good job this season overall, but he needs to remember we are a running team that can throw the ball, not the other way around.
3. Offensive Line
This line is awful. I know they do the best they can, but they are just not talented enough to play well against teams with a talented front seven. Miami manhandled this line throughout the game. We will certainly address this need in the upcoming draft but in the mean time, it is hard to watch this group play sometimes.
These are my three things to be down about after the Panthers win Sunday. There is plenty to be excited, as Panthers fans, so be excited. Call into your local talk shows and talk Panthers. We as fans are the national voice for our team, no matter where we are. The Panthers should not only be talked about in the Carolinas, they should be the in the discussion of good teams all over the country.
- The Panthers’ seven-game win streak is a franchise record for the regular season.
- The Panthers are now 3-0 in their last three game decided by four points or less. They were 0-6 under Ron Rivera prior to that.