The Carolina Panthers traveled to Hard Rock Stadium still in search of their first win of the season before going into the bye week. That was a tall order to begin with facing the top offense in the NFL in the Miami Dolphins. To add insult to injury, a defense decimated by injury got even leaner with starting safety Von Bell missing the game with a quadriceps injury. Carolina came out the gates like a team with nothing to lose and jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. Running back Chuba Hubbard, starting in place of the injured Miles Sanders reached the end zone for the first time since Week 14 of last season. Veteran wide receiver Adam Thielen scored the Panthers second – and apparently last – offensive touchdown at the end of the first quarter. During that same stretch the defense was able to force Tua Tagovailoa and that potent offense into back to back 3-and-out possessions.
Then the second quarter happened. Both the offense and defense began to heat up as Miami rattled off 21 unanswered points. During this period, Raheem Mostert, Jaylen Waddle, and Tyreek Hill all hit pay dirt. The drive that culminated with Waddle’s game-tying touchdown reception started near midfield after the Panthers’ fake punt play was just short of the first down. Carolina’s went 3-and-out on their next possession and Tagovailoa’s 41-yard air mail to Hill put the Dolphins up 21-14 with 1:54 to play in the first half. Carolina’s perplexing issues with clock management surfaced as time wound down in the second quarter. Eddy Pineiro missed a 43-yard field goal that would have narrowed the lead going into the intermission – especially with Miami getting the ball first in the second half.
The Panthers were never able to regain that early game mojo and turned the ball over on downs in three of their five second half possessions – including a decision to attempt a deep shot at the end zone on 4th & 1. By contrast, the Dolphins showed why they are the league’s most electric offense as Mostert added two more scores; giving him the hat trick on the day. Even the backups got in on the action with running back Salvon Ahmed scoring on a 9-yard run. The Panthers only points outside of the first quarter came on a Troy Hill pick six on backup quarterback Mike White. Tagovailoa finished 21-of-31 for 262 yards and three touchdowns. Rookie Bryce Young finished 23-of-38 for 217 and one touchdown. Hill led all receivers with six catches for 163 yards and a touchdown while Thielen led the Panthers air attack with eleven catches for 113 and a touchdown. Mostert added 115 yards on the ground to go with his three scores while Hubbard amassed 88 yards and a touchdown on nineteen carries.
Carolina goes into their bye week 0-6 with hopes to get a number of injured players back when play resumes on October 29.