Tag Archives: Miami Dolphins

Carolina Panthers win 7th in a row; beat Miami 20-16

MIAMI – “Seven! Seven wins in a row for the Carolina Panthers! MWA! HA! HA!” (Count Von Count on the Panthers). The Panthers (8-3) are on a roll and have tied their franchise regular-season win streak (with the 1996 team) at seven games following another close win – this time at Miami (5-6). Quarterback Cam Newton led the black-clad visitors down the field on an 80-yard drive as time was running out, and the Panthers came away with a 20-16 victory. It was his second signature drive in seven days after having none in his first 41 games.

Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera was not pleased with the team's effort in the first half of the game at Miami.
Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera was not pleased with the team’s effort in the first half of the game at Miami.

The Panthers went into halftime trailing 16-6, and it could have been worse. Head coach Ron Rivera was furious at halftime because he felt, in his words, that the Panthers had “disrespected” the Dolphins by not playing hard enough. When the team came back onto the field at Sun Life Stadium, it was a different bunch of guys. Focused, physical and determined. Yet it took another gamble by “Riverboat Ron” to put the Cats in position to win the game.

Facing a fourth-and-10 at their own 20 with 2:33 left on the clock, the Panthers trailed Miami 16-13. Rivera, who said he prefers “Calculated Risk-Taker” to “Riverboat Ron,” played the odds.

According to an advanced NFL statistics website’s win-probability calculator, the Panthers had a 14 percent chance of winning before the fourth-down snap. Had Carolina punted, and using the average Brad Nortman punt from Sunday, the Dolphins would have gotten the ball back with an 88 percent chance to win, and the Panthers would be left with one timeout and the 2-minute warning.

“We got to do it,” Rivera said of his decision. “We only had one timeout left. You know this (Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill) is a very elusive quarterback. He showed it.”

A 19-yard completion to Smith got the Panthers a first down, and a 9-yard pass to tight end Greg Olsen got them near midfield at the 2-minute warning.

Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen caught Cam Newton's one-yard touchdown pass to give the Panthers a 20-16 win in Miami.
Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen caught Cam Newton’s one-yard touchdown pass to give the Panthers a 20-16 win in Miami.

Driving down the field while working the clock down, Newton found tight end Greg Olsen open on a 1-yard touchdown pass with 43 seconds left.  The touchdown gave the Panthers their first lead of the game, as well as the victory in front of a crowd of 60,156 and a lot of empty orange seats at Sun Life Stadium.

The game did not really feature the back-and-forth scoring as in last week against New England…yet it did come down to the opponent trying to score a last-second touchdown via the pass to take the victory from the Panthers. This time, there would be no controversial ending. Instead, second-year Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill threw a Hail Mary pass to the one-yard line, hoping receiver Mike Wallace would come up with the miracle catch. He almost did. Wallace was a thorn in the side of the Panthers defensive backs, who collectively had a horrible day. On the game’s final play, Panthers free safety Mike Mitchell somehow let Wallace get behind him near the goal line, but this time Wallace was unable to make the catch and the game ended.

GAME NOTES:

  • On the first series of the game, Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, who does not wear a mouth guard because he tends to get cotton-mouth, was hit by Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake after releasing the ball, and the force caused him to bite his tongue. “I bit my tongue and it was numb for a minute, but it didn’t have any effect on me as far as game play. I wanted to make sure my tongue was still intact,” Newton said. “I had to feel around for it for a minute and I felt it so I was good.”
  • Tannehill completed 28 of 42 passes for 310 yards – the first time the Panthers allowed a 300-yard passer since Seattle’s Russell Wilson threw for 320 in Week 1.
  • A third of Tannehill’s yardage came on two completions to Wallace, the $60 million free agent acquisition who had not been the deep threat Miami envisioned through the first 10 games. But Wallace found his way against Panthers cornerback Captain Munnerlyn, beating his twice for receptions of 53 and 57 yards.
  • The 53-yarder was the first touchdown allowed by the Panthers in the first quarter in 15 games, dating to a loss at Kansas City last December.
  • The game was the third fourth-quarter comeback win in a row for the Panthers, who now will get ready to play a revitalized Tampa Bay squad Sunday in Charlotte.
  • Week 14 game at New Orleans has been moved to an 8:30 p.m. start on Dec. 8 at the Superdome. The game was originally scheduled to kick off at 1 p.m.
  • The Panthers (8-3) remain a game behind the Saints (9-2) in the NFC South by virtue of their win at Miami on Sunday. The Saints beat Atlanta on Thursday night. Carolina and New Orleans will play twice in a 15-day span in December, in games that likely will determine the division winner.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING:

Panthers head coach Ron Rivera on Cam Newton:  “He’s been playing with a lot of confidence the last six, seven, eight weeks. I know this much, it gives everybody else confidence. I think that’s the biggest thing, not just for him, but for us as a team.”

Rivera on Miami:  “They’re a much better football team than we gave them credit for. I kind of felt like a couple of times that we were going through the motions like they’re supposed to lay down. This is the NFL and at any point in time anybody can beat anybody. It doesn’t matter what the record is. This was not an easy victory. This was a hard victory. This victory tested us.”

Rivera on the play of Newton following the big hit where he came up spitting blood:  “It took him a little bit to get refocused. Sometimes that does that, it spooks the quarterback a little bit. And I think our offensive line was spooked a little bit too. And they got a little concerned after that and they didn’t play well.”

Wide receiver Steve Smith said he thought the Panthers were lazy before halftime.  “We underestimated that team, They’re a good team, they’ve got a good defense. We had to improve and improve quickly, because it was getting ugly.”

Wideout Smith, as usual, had something more to say:  “We would’ve been getting dog-cussed and (there’d be) talk about how bad we are and we’re pretenders. I think we’ll still hear a little bit of flak from people and fans, naysayers – ‘This team’s not for real. We’ll see next week.’ Because obviously this week has passed and we survived.”

Smith, on the Panthers, a team that lost seven times by seven points of fewer last season: “Unfortunately, we had experience with two-minute drives a lot last year in our losses, so we’ve had a lot of practice. As they say, practice makes perfect.”

Carolina Panthers wideout Steve Smith makes a reception on 4th down late in the game as Miami Dolphins defenders Brent Grimes (21) and Chris Clemons (30) try to take him down.
Carolina Panthers wideout Steve Smith makes a reception on 4th down late in the game as Miami Dolphins defenders Brent Grimes (21) and Chris Clemons (30) try to take him down.

Smith on what he told Cam Newton regarding passes over the middle: “I always tell Cam, hit me in the chest and I’ll deal with the consequences.(Clemons) eyed me, so I knew he was coming. The hardest job is catching the ball. I’m going to get hit.”

Wideout and punt returner Ted Ginn, Jr. on the difference between the Panthers play in each half:  “We all came out, we’re looking at (the Dolphins) and it ain’t no real hoorah. We went out and played to their level. We came in and our leaders stepped up and talked. Coach came in and spoke. We went out and tried to play a complete half, and that’s what we did.”

Panthers defensive tackle Dwan Edwards on the difference between this year’s team and last year’s:  “Last year’s team would have found a way to lose this game. This year’s team found a way to win it.”

Panthers center Ryan Kalil, he of the infamous Super Bowl guarantee ad that ran LAST season:  “This team does an incredible job of keeping its composure. In past years, we’ve been all over the place.”

Carolina Panthers look sharp in win over Miami

The Carolina Panthers proved they are more ready for prime time than the stars of HBO‘s “Hard Knocks” series, the Miami Dolphins. Bouncing back from an uninteresting effort last week, the Panthers beat the Dolphins 23-17 at Bank of America Stadium in both teams’ second preseason game.

Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton hands the ball off to running back Jonathan Stewart in Friday’s game.

Quarterback Cam Newton looked very sharp, completing 8 of 11 passes for 119 yards and a touchdown in his short time on the field Friday night. His offensive line gave him plenty of time to find open receivers, something they failed to do last week against Houston’s blitzing defense. “Last week I felt kind of rushed,” Newton said. “Today, I knew I had a lot more time to work, and when you know you are in there for longer than a couple series, you let the game come to you. I think it showed tonight.”

“I thought Cam played very well – three very solid drives,” coach Ron Rivera said. “I thought the big thing he did as far as running the show, he was very efficient. Believe me, I was disappointed last week that we didn’t win. Very happy that we won this week. I want to believe this is something we can build on. We did some really good things.”

Newton’s longest completion was a 27-yarder to tight end Greg Olson – which came after Newton remained in the pocket and took a big hit from defensive tackle Paul Soloiai after throwing the pass.

Newton said, “there was a big difference between this week and last week,” crediting the line for giving him time to throw. And, known for his running as much as his passing, Newton did not need to resort to his legs at all in his short time playing.

“(Offensive line coach John) Matsko coached us to protect what’s ours and what’s most valuable to us, and that’s the quarterback,” second-year tackle Byron Bell said. “That’s Cam, that’s (Derek Anderson) and that’s Jimmy (Clausen). We had the attitude and effort tonight, and we got the job done.”

“These guys take pride in what they do and I appreciate everything they do,” said Newton, who added he felt rushed last week. “It starts with them. Without those guys, this offense would stall out each and every time.”

Bell and rookie left guard Amini Silatolu remained in the game as the veteran linemen took a seat after the first quarter. The extra time on the field gave the younger players the opportunity to get in a few more hits and blocks, while working with the second-string.

“Coach Matsko keeps me out there. He told me to lead them all and continue my game,” Bell said. “You never know. If someone got hurt, I would have to go in. I’m still a young guy and I’m learning from (veteran tackle Jordan) Gross and all those guys so I need all the reps I can get.”

“You can prepare every week more and more in the preseason, and I think we were more ready for these guys this week,” Gross said. “The whole line gave up eight sacks last week, and that was certainly something we wanted to cut down. We didn’t give up any in the first quarter.”

The Panthers’ running back tandem of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart combined for two touchdowns. Stewart ran one in from two yards out and Williams caught a pass from Newton in the flat and scored a 9-yard TD.

Stewart left the game with a calf injury in the first quarter, but it was nothing serious. The injury occurred when Stew caught a short pass from Newton for a one-yard gain.

On the flip side, Miami’s first round draft choice (the 8th overall), quarterback Ryan Tannehill, from Texas A&M, made his first preseason start for the Dolphins and played the entire first half. His six possessions – four of which ended in three-and-outs – didn’t go as he had hoped, but he was playing against a Panthers defense that has a lot to prove. He found himself under heavy duress for most of the game as the Panthers sacked him three times and batted down three balls at the line of scrimmage.

He finished 11 of 23 for 100 yards passing.

While the Panthers’ first-team was in the game, they outgained Miami 152 to 23 in total yardage and had a 12 to 1 edge in first downs.

Panthers’ defensive end Frank Alexander sacks Dolphins’ quarterback Ryan Tannehill during Friday’s game.

Defensively, the Panthers were playing with abandon. Defensive end Charles Johnson played an outstanding game, pressuring Tannehill and sacking him viciously, as did Frank Alexander and Thomas Keiser. Each pressured Tannehill, welcoming the rookie to the NFL.

“It was a big leap from what we did last week, ” Johnson said. “It really didn’t matter who was back there, we just wanted to work on our things and get better off what we did. It’s a good game to build on, see what we did wrong, what we did right. But we had a good start.”

Panthers’ defensive end Charles Johnson puts a move on Miami’s Jonathan Martin on his way to sacking quarterback Ryan Tannehill

The first-team defense did not allow a first down until the final play of the opening quarter. They forced back-to-back three-and-outs to start the game, allowing Newton and the offense to control the tempo and grab the early momentum.

Newton was replaced by back-up Derek Anderson in the second quarter, and Anderson was followed by Jimmy Clausen by the end of the third quarter. Former Panthers’ quarterback Matt Moore replaced Tannehill in the second half, returning to Bank of America Stadium for the first time since 2010.

Panthers’ wide receiver Steve Smith should get some air time on “Hard Knocks” in Wednesday’s show. He battled with  the Dolphins’ Vontae Davis twice and ended up pushing the defensive back out of the way a couple of times. Smith had one catch for 15 yards against the Fins, but was pleased with the progress made by the offense.

Miami Dolphins’ Richard Marshall (31) works to separate teammate Vontae Davis (21) from Carolina Panthers’ Steve Smith (89)

“Last week was kind of difficult getting in a rhythm. We didn’t play too many plays. That’s as excuse we can make. But we just didn’t show out very good in the short time that we had, ” Smith said. “We came out with a different mentality and we’re getting closer and closer to getting in the swing of things as the season progresses.”

The kicking battle continued for the Panthers, with placekickers Olindo Mare (incumbent) and Justin Medlock (CFL veteran free agent) going toe-to-toe. Medlock kicked a 49-yard field goal in the first quarter, a 43-yard field goal in the fourth quarter and kicked an extra point. Mare hit a 44-yard field goal in the second quarter along with an extra point in the first. Each handled kicking off nicely, with Mare having a slight edge in length. One of Medlock’s kickoffs was returned nearly 30 yards in the first quarter, the result of kicking to the goal line and not into the end zone.

Panthers No. 2 receiver, Brandon LaFell in pregame mode.

And the battle for the number three receiver may be getting some clarity. With Steve Smith (No. 1) and Brandon LaFell (No. 2), newcomer Louis Murphy appears to be winning out for the No. 3 position.

Panthers’ Louis Murphy (83) appears to have the inside shot at the No. 3 receiver position.

The Panthers now have a week to get ready for a nationally televised game on NBC against the New York Jets on August 26. The starters are expected to play most of the game, which will be Newton’s first one in New York.