Panthers vs. Dolphins: Live Game Grades and Analysis for Carolina

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistNovember 24, 2013

CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 18:  Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers reacts after throwing for a touchdown against the New England Patriots during their game at Bank of America Stadium on November 18, 2013 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The Carolina Panthers win another nail-biter on Sunday and leave Miami with a victory over the Dolphins to move to 8-3.

Final Score: Carolina 20, Miami 16

Carolina Panthers Game Grades
Position UnitFirst-Half GradeFinal Grade
Pass OffenseD+C
Run OffenseD-A-
Pass DefenseC-C-
Run DefenseA-A+
Special TeamsC-C-
vs. Dolphins Week 12

Game Analysis for Carolina

Pass Offense: Quarterback Cam Newton was pressured into making mistakes in the first half. However, much of that pressure was alleviated in the second with an improved rushing attack.

Still, Newton looked little like the poised and confident passer we saw against the Patriots a week ago. He did, however, do some major damage on the ground.

Newton finished the afternoon 19-of-38 for 174 yards with one interception and the game-winning touchdown.

Run Offense: After struggling to move the ball on the ground in the first half, the Panthers ramped things up in the second.

Newton led the team with 51 yards rushing on eight carries. Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams chipped in with 31 yards apiece, while Mike Tolbert added 23.

Pass Defense: Carolina’s usually strong pass defense (ranked fifth entering the game) was gashed early by Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill and receiver Mike Wallace.

Tannehill and Wallace hooked up for 127 yards and a touchdown but failed to connect on a potential game-winning score.

Tannehill finished the game 28-of-42 for 310 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

Run Defense: Aside from some key scrambles by Tannehill, Miami never really got anything going on the ground against a stingy Panthers defense.

This allowed the Panthers to stay in the game throughout the second half, despite playing from behind, as Miami simply couldn’t grind out the clock.

Tannehill scrambled for 36 yards. The rest of the Dolphins rushing offense managed just 16 yards on 13 carries.

Special Teams: It was a mixed afternoon for the Panthers special teams unit.

Kicker Graham Gano had a first-quarter field goal blocked, but he connected on his next two attempts. Meanwhile, return specialist Ted Ginn returned one kickoff for 41 yards and one punt for 17.

Coaching: Ron Rivera and the rest of the coaching staff made some noticeable adjustments at halftime, which helped turn momentum in the game.

While the Panthers still relied a bit too much on the passing game in the second half, the ground game was much more effective and brought at least some balance to the offense.

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - NOVEMBER 24:  The Miami Dolphins line up against the Carolina Panthers during a game  at Sun Life Stadium on November 24, 2013 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

First-Half Analysis for Carolina

Pass Offense: Despite possessing elite mobility, quarterback Cam Newton faced quite a bit of pressure in the first half.

A week after a composed performance against the Patriots, Newton appeared confused by Miami’s defensive schemes. His second-quarter interception allowed the Dolphins to score before halftime.

Newton finished the half 10-of-19 for 100 yards and the pick.

Run Offense: The Panthers entered the game ranked 10th in the league in rushing (125.3 yards per game on the ground). However, the Carolina backfield did not look anything like a top-10 unit in the first two quarters.

Jonathan Stewart led the team with just 16 yards rushing on five carries, while Newton failed to register positive yardage with the run.

Pass Defense: Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill was intercepted on the game’s opening drive. However, he responded with a long touchdown strike to receiver Mike Wallace.

In fact, Tannehill found Wallace on a couple of long passes. The former Steelers wideout burned Carolina for 110 yards and a score on just two receptions.

In all, Tannehill completed 12 of 19 pass attempts for 203 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

Run Defense: While the Carolina defense struggled to contain Miami’s passing attack in the first half, it was stout against the run.

Miami ran for just 22 yards in the first half.

Special Teams: It was a mixed half for the Panthers special teams unit. A blocked field goal took away Carolina’s first scoring opportunity of the game.

However, a 41-yard punt return by Ted Ginn set up the team’s first points of the game. They happened to come on a 52-yard Graham Gano field goal.

Coaching: Much like last week, Ron Rivera seems to have crafted a game plan that revolves around balance. The plan has yielded very different results.

Offensively, the Panthers have featured a nice mix of run and pass with varying degrees of success. However, the defense had some uncharacteristic struggles with Miami’s offense.

The use of all three timeouts early in the half may have cost the Panthers an opportunity to drive for a touchdown instead of a field goal immediately before the half.


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