The Panthers defense has carried them for weeks, but that changed tonight. After several re-hashings of the same narrative, the Panthers offense woke up tonight. The defense was great as always, but the offense finally capitalized on their opportunities.
- For once, Cam Newton didn’t have to shoulder the bulk of the Panthers’ rushing productivity. Jonathan Stewart finally eclipsed the 100 yard mark with 110 and a 6.5 yards per carry average. Christian McCaffery and Cameron Artis-Payne both ran in touchdowns. Cam still ran for 95 yards, but the bulk of that came on a 69 yard carry. This offense is better when they run the ball.
- Speaking of better offenses, Devin Funchess caught two touchdowns tonight and fell just short of 100 yards receiving. So far, he is fitting the bill as the Panthers’ number one receiver.
- Christian McCaffery looked more like what we saw in college, breaking numerous tackles en route to a two touchdown performance.
- The offensive line didn’t allow a sack and pushed for almost 300 yards rushing. Is this unit finally gelling without Ryan Kalil?
- The defense swarmed all night with a 4th down stop and several 3rd down stops. Luke Kuechly lead the charge with 6 tackles, a pass deflection, and a pick. Overall, the defense played extremely well.
In the first quarter, the Panthers deferred and gave the ball to the Dolphins. The defense forced a punt after stuffinoutg the Dolphins rush game, but had to punt themselves after a drop by Russell Shepard. The defense forced a three and out on the ensuing drive, and the Panthers kicked a field goal after trying to get the rushing game going with Jonathan Stewart and Christian McCaffery. The defense forced n another punt 9 plays later, which lead to their first touchdown drive off a run by Christian McCaffery, where he made a juke reminiscent of his college days to score. The Dolphins answered with a touchdown drive of their own, capping it off with a shovel pass to Julius Thomas. The Panthers had to punt with little time left in the second quarter, but the defense made a play as Luke Kuechly intercepted a corner route intended for Julius Thomas. The Panthers offense made the most of it with a touchdown to Ed Dickson to end the half.
The Panthers opened the second half swinging, with a 28 yard catch and run for a TD by Devin Funchess. The Dolphins tried to keep pace, but facing 4th and 1 on the next drive the Panthers’ defense stuffed them. They added another touchdown with a run by Cameron Artis-Payne to put them up 31-7. The Dolphins finally found some offense and racked in a 66 yard touchdown run by Kenyan Drake to eat into the Carolina lead. The Panthers didn’t take their foot off the gas though, as Christian McCaffery found paydirt on a 2 yard run following a 69 yard scramble by Cam Newton. The Dolphins has to punt, giving the Panthers the ball with 10 minutes left. The Panthers continued their offensive outburst with yet another touchdown reception by Devin Funchess for 32 yards. The Dolphins managed to drive the ball down the field in garbage time as Jay Cutler found Jarvis Landry for a 9 yard TD. The Panthers’ backups came in to close out the game, as Cameron Artis-Payne busted off a big run for 43 yards. They closed out the game there.
The Panthers finally put in a complete performance, and enter their bye week to improve on that. They are only a half game back from the Saints, and this was perfect timing for them to come alive. They will face a bigger offensive challenge against the New York Jets following their bye, but Greg Olsen will return as well.
7-3 baby, we control our destiny!