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 3rd 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 1st 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 2nd half, including a key sack at midfield to end the game.
The Turning Point
The Panther offense came out of the locker room and scored a TD to bring them within 3 points 16-13. It was a new game at that point though the offense. The defense responded by also playing better and limiting the Dolphins to zero points the rest of the way.
The run defense was yet again solid which allowed the pass rush to heat up late in the game. By contrast the Panther running game was only slightly effective until it turned to Mike Tolbert late. Tolbert had two key runs late in the 4th quarter and the Panthers marching into the red zone.
The offensive line was abused by the Dolphins throughout the game but most glaringly in the first half. The Panthers in turn brought in more blockers to help protect Newton on 3rd and longs but Newton still got pressured. Yet when the chips were on the line they gave Newton enough time to make a play, whether it was with his feet or his arm.
For the second straight game Luke Kuechly had a flag picked on a play in the end zone. This was one of several calls or no calls in the game both teams will have to review. Newton took a shot to the grill early that was not called. He then got a ticky tack hit out of bounds late that went the Panthers way.
Play of the Game
With 46 seconds remaining, 2nd and one yard from the Dolphin end zone the Panthers brought in the jumbo package which caused the Dolphins to sell out on the run. Panthers TE Greg Olsen slipped out on the pay action to catch an easy TD in the back of the end zone to take the lead.
The Panthers didn't play a very good game in any phase of the game but they did enough to pull out the victory on the road against a good opponent. Hats off to the Dolphins they gave the Panthers all they wanted. The Panthers have now won seven straight games with the Bucs coming to Charlotte next Sunday.