The Carolina Panthers lost for the seventh time in the last nine weeks as the Miami Dolphins dominated all three phases of the game with a 33-10 victory at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, FL.
Carolina’s opening offensive possession ended with points for Miami, as Justin Coleman recovered Duke Riley’s blocked punt of Lachlan Edwards in the end zone for the game’s opening score.
Panthers’ Head Coach Matt Rhule said things just snowballed from there.
“I think we as a team came in having a great week feeling like we were going to be very confident and locked in and
they overwhelmed us at times and credit to them,” Rhule said. “We have to go back to the drawing board and regroup.”
The Panthers’ lone positive drive came thanks to the longest pass play of the season, a 64-yard hookup between Cam Newton and DJ Moore. Newton finished off the drive with a one-yard touchdown run.
Offensive momentum ended there for the Panthers, as Newton threw interceptions on each of the next two drives, the second of which resulted in a Miami touchdown on the ensuing drive.
Newton said the inability to stay on the field affected both the offensive rhythm & the Carolina defense’s effectiveness.
“It’s hard to get on a rhythm, three and out three and out three and out. We have to find ways to
sustain drives and stay out on the football field,” Newton said. “Anybody defensively, offensively, you know, it’s just about wearing down and I think offensively we wore our defense down today.”
Following another Miami touchdown, the Dolphins gave the Panthers a gift on a bad snap recovered by Carolina’s Frankie Luvu. Zane Gonzalez converted a 41-yard field goal as time expired in the first half, but the Panthers wouldn’t come close to scoring again while the game was in the balance.
Miami held the ball on its first drive of the second half for 7:24 of elapsed time, concluding it with soul-crushing touchdown run on a Miles Gaskin direct snap.
Tua Tagovailoa outdueled his fellow Iron Bowl rival, producing an efficient 27-for-31 passing line for 230 yards and a touchdown.
Rhule pulled Newton in the fourth quarter after a day where his offensive line gave no time to operate, and when they did, Newton couldn’t respond. Newton completed just 5-of-21 passes for 92 yards, with two interceptions, and rushed it just three times with the one touchdown. The Panthers head coach said Newton’s benching was more to protect his starter.
“Didn’t seem fair to keep Cam in there getting hit. PJ, give him a chance to play and at the same time Cam just hasn’t had a lot of experience in that part of the game that unfortunately we were in,” Rhule said.
The Panthers managed just 10 first downs and once again struggled with penalties, committing seven infractions costing them 61 yards.
Haason Reddick was an offender on multiple occassions, picking up a pair of 15-yard markers. Reddick lamented the 15-yard taunting call, which led to another Dolphins score.
I should have had my emotions in check, but what happened I didn’t like. And I reacted, which is unacceptable,” Reddick said. “Being a leader on the team, a veteran, completely unacceptable. I take all responsibility for that.”
Rhule said the taunting penalty was especeially galling, and a microcosm of the team’s woes of late.
“I’ve got to do a better job at everything that I do, [Defensive Coordinator] Phil [Snow], [Offensive Coordinator] Joe [Brady], all the coaches, players. We had them in 3rd and 22 and we have a taunting penalty,” Rhule said. We haven’t had a taunting penalty all year. You have to do the things that cause you to win.”
Carolina heads to the bye week with a 5-7 record, with its stretch run beginning in two weeks with a home game against division rival Atlanta.