Nothing went right for the Panthers today as they fell to 5-7 on the season.
The Panthers came into this game with the Dolphins needing to pick up a win to improve their record to 6-6 on the year and stay firmly in the mix for a wild card spot in the NFC. In what has become Carolina Panthers tradition, they did the exact opposite of what they needed to do, opting instead to play some of the worst football they’ve played all season long in an embarrassing loss on the road that dropped their record to 5-7 and all but took them out of the race for a playoff spot.
Nothing went right for the Panthers today. Cam Newton was 5-of-21 for 92 yards and 2 interceptions — and a rushing touchdown — before he was replaced by P.J. Walker in the fourth quarter. Walker’s first snap resulted in a sack, and then he was sacked again before throwing an interception on his second pass attempt of the game. It was just that kind of day, unfortunately.
The Dolphins completely dominated the Panthers today. There’s no other way to say it. The Panthers were unprepared and outmatched, and quite frankly they deserved to lose this game. I don’t know where the Panthers go from here, and I hope they can find some answers to the problems that are plaguing them. I don’t know if anything can be fixed before the offseason — I mean, you can’t just magically make an offensive line better — but they have to hope they can keep the wheels from completely falling off the wagon if the coaching staff want to keep their jobs.
Fortunately the Panthers have a bye week to regroup and make a run at things over the last five weeks of the season, but if things continue to go the way they have gone over the last six weeks or so then we’re probably going to be looking at top draft picks for Christmas.
If you’re interested you can read a more in-depth recap of the game, broken down by quarter, below.
The Panthers won the opening coin toss and deferred to the second half. The defense started out a little shaky but clamped down and forced the Dolphins to punt thanks to a sack by Brian Burns to force fourth-and-23 from around midfield to give the Panthers’ offense their first possession.
The offense quickly went three-and-out after picking up just four yards before having to punt. The punt was blocked by the Dolphins, who picked up the loose football and pushed it into the end zone for a touchdown to give the Dolphins a 7-0 lead with 9:11 left in the quarter.
The Panthers responded quickly on their next drive and drove down the field in just over three minutes. Cam Newton found DJ Moore for a huge 64-yard gain to set the Panthers up in the red zone, and Newton took it the rest of the way with his legs to give the Panthers the game-tying touchdown to knot the score at 7-7 with 6:01 left in the quarter.
The Panthers defense locked down on their next series and forced the Dolphins to punt the ball back to Carolina’s offense without adding to the scoreboard. Phil Hoskins was key making a big run stuff and also picking up a sack on Tua Tagovailoa on third down to force the punt.
The Panthers ran out the remaining time in the quarter and faced a third-and-1 situation as time expired.
The Panthers continued their drive with a third-and-1 and picked up the first down on a Newton keeper. The Panthers’ drive collapsed a few plays later when Newton was picked off on another third down, and the defense were back out on the field to try and avoid falling behind on the scoreboard. The defense did their job and forced the Dolphins to punt the ball back to the Panthers’ offense without taking any damage.
The Panthers committed a holding penalty that snuffed a decent gain and forced a first-and-16 from deep inside their own territory, and then Newton threw his second interception of the game to give the Dolphins excellent field position with a chance to take the lead. The Dolphins took advantage of the gift from the Panthers’ offense and took the lead on a Jaylen Waddle touchdown reception to make the score 14-7 with 9:01 left in the half.
The Panthers went three-and-out again and had to punt the ball back to the Dolphins. The defense can’t contain the Dolphins’ offense and they put together another scoring drive to extend their lead to 21-7 with 4:26 left in the half. Jaylen Waddle burned the Panthers’ secondary for a 57-yard gain to jump start the scoring drive for Miami.
The Panthers responded with another three-and-out to give the ball right back to the Dolphins defense. The defense did their job and got the ball back for the Panthers’ offense, but once again the offense couldn’t get anything going and had to punt the ball away again.
The Panthers picked up a key turnover on a botched snap as time was ticking down, and Frankie Luvu returned the fumble all the way down into Dolphins territory and allowed Zane Gonzalez to kick a 41-yard field goal with one second left in the half to give the Panthers some life heading into the break. The Panthers trailed the Dolphins 21-10 at halftime and were set to receive the second half kickoff.
The Panthers started the second half on offense and promptly went three-and-out, but ran a fake punt on fourth down to keep the drive alive. Sean Chandler picked up the first down on a well executed play. Unfortunately the Panthers couldn’t take advantage of their fortune and were forced to punt just a few plays later.
The Dolphins rammed the ball straight down the Panthers’ throats with a 13-play, 80-yard drive that was capped off by another 3-yard rushing touchdown from Myles Gaskin to extend the Dolphins’ lead to 17 points at 27-10 with 4:11 left in the quarter. Haason Reddick contributed a 15-yard taunting penalty to the drive to help the Dolphins extend their lead to three scores.
The Panthers squandered another opportunity on offense and narrowly avoided a safety when Newton was sacked inside his own 1-yard line on second down to force a third-and-34 situation. The Panthers could not convert and had to punt the ball back to the Dolphins from within their own end zone.
The Dolphins used up the rest of the time in the quarter and began the fourth quarter with a 27-10 lead over the Panthers.
The Dolphins continued their drive from the previous quarter and the Panthers defense managed to hold on enough to force Miami to attempt a field goal. The kick was good and the Dolphins added to their lead to go up 30-10 over the Panthers with 10:58 left in regulation.
The Panthers switched to P.J. Walker at quarterback after Newton struggled to move the offense down the field, and Walker was sacked on his first play from scrimmage. A few plays later, Walker was sacked again and then threw an interception to give the ball back to the Dolphins. The Dolphins drained time off the clock and added three more points to their lead with another field goal to go up 33-10 with 3:41 left in regulation.
The Panthers showed some fight in their next drive and moved the ball decently well down the field but couldn’t put the ball in the end zone and turned the ball over on downs back to the Dolphins, who ran out the remainder of the clock to seal their victory.