Carolina pulled out a close one in Miami - another late drive with a
go-ahead score for Cam Newton, another last second defensive stand. It
didn't carry the drama that the Patriots game did, but it was the same
Newton drove the team down - including some solid 3rd down and even a
4th and 10 conversion - for the comeback score, the only second half
lead the team achieved, with a solid mix of rushing and passing,
including some strong late rushes by an injured Mike Tolbert. The
Panthers suckered Miami with 32 personnel - 3 TEs, one being utility
lineman Geoff Hangartner - and two backs, but released Greg Olsen on the
fake. Olsen looked outright lonely out there scoring, until his team
Carolina then fended off all Miami could give for the win, including a
bomb to Mike Wallace that could've spoiled the whole thing, but 2nd year
Ryan Tannehill didn't have quite enough to land the knockout blow.
Ron Rivera noted the toughness and good play of the Miami team and
coach Joe Philbin to start his postgame, not a traditional thing for
Rivera to do. I think the Dolphins really surprised Carolina, starting
with the Cameron Wake hit to Newton on the first play. It should've
been called, and wasn't, but Wake should be writing a check on Friday to
cover it. Newton couldn't shake the cobwebs, and neither could the rest
of the team, so they squandered an opening drive INT with a
missed/blocked FG, and a second drive in great field position left only
a FG. When Miami broke Carolina's first quarter record of not allowing
a TD, on a rollout bomb to Wallace that left Captain Munnerlyn hanging
back helpless? You could tell Carolina wasn't up to it.
So they carried a 16-3 deficit to the end of the half, where they
somehow snuck in a FG with time expiring despite being on the wrong side
of the 50 with :16 left with a couple out routes and a nice up the
sideline move by Brandon LaFell against prevent. Up to then, they were
starting to lose the field position battle and had been outgained 4:1.
They built on the FG with a strong opening second half drive, capped by
a Newton TD, then the D kicked in. They pitched a 2nd half shutout, and
after conservative offensive play up to the last drive, Newton led them
home on their last shot.
It didn't hurt that, finally, the last defensive drive saw Carolina
providing consistent pressure, hitting Tannehill more often than not,
the type of pressure that was there with Charles Johnson and sorely
lacking without in the six quarters since.
So, that's 7 straight. 8-3. Slowly returning to their Cardiac Cats
style of a decade ago.