Newton outplays Tannehill as Panthers top Dolphins

Make no doubt about it: Cam Newton is expecting some special

things from the Carolina Panthers’ offense this season.

So he was encouraged to see his first-team offense bounce back

from a lackluster performance last week with an impressive showing

Friday night in a 23-17 win over the Miami Dolphins, an effort

which could prove to be a springboard for the rest of the


Carolina’s first team offense was near perfect in scoring two

touchdowns and a field goal in three possessions before getting the

rest of the night off. That’s the type of efficiency the Panthers

had come to expect last year after finishing the season seventh in

the league in total offense and fifth in points scored.

”It was a big difference between this week and last week,”

Newton said.

Newton led Carolina’s high-powered offense to 17 first-quarter

points and outplayed rookie Ryan Tannehill, who was making his

first preseason start for the Dolphins.

Newton looked extremely sharp, completing 8 of 11 passes for 119

yards and a touchdown as the Panthers (No. 20 in the AP Pro32)

jumped all over the injury-depleted Dolphins’ defense early.

Last year’s AP Offensive Rookie of the Year threw a touchdown

pass to DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart scored on a 2-yard

plunge before he and the rest of the Carolina starting offense

exited with 1:12 left in the first quarter.

”Last week I felt kind of rushed,” Newton said. ”Coach (Ron

Rivera) told me I wasn’t going to be in that long and I kind of

panicked to a degree. I didn’t let the game come to me. Today I

knew I had a lot more time to work and when you know that you’re in

there for longer than a couple of series you try to let the game

come to you.”

Tannehill had an inconsistent night for the Dolphins (No.


He played the entire first half and led six possessions – four

of which ended in three-and-out. He found himself under heavy

duress most of the game as the Panthers sacked him three times and

batted down three balls at the line of scrimmage.

He finished 11 of 23 for 100 yards.

The one promising highlight for Dolphins fans came on Miami’s

third possession when Tannehill completed three third-and-long

passes to keep the drive alive. Running back Daniel Thomas

culminated the 15-play, 71-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown


Tannehill believes the Dolphins have the potential to be a

quality offensive team.

”We’re this close,” Tannehill said, holding his finger and

thumb a half-inch apart. ”It’s so close, and it’s frustrating, but

you can get past it. It’s a preseason game, and you’re that close.

If we can go out and cut back one mistake each drive, we’ll be

moving the ball down the field and scoring points.”

After the game, Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said his starting

quarterback remains uncertain and that he’s still not sure when

veteran David Garrard will be back on the field.

”We’re going to watch the tape, take a good hard look, and see

where we are,” Philbin said.

Matt Moore didn’t do anything to help his own cause. He

completed 5 of 15 passes for 57 yards. Fourth-stringer Pat Devlin

made the best of his limited action with a 6-yard touchdown pass to

rookie Rishard Matthews. Devlin had a chance to win the game but

his final pass was intercepted in the end zone by R.J. Stanford

with 4 seconds left.

There’s no doubt about who is the Panthers starting


Newton didn’t run at all this game – he didn’t need to – but

found plenty of open receivers.

After Carolina’s first drive ended with a 49-yard field goal by

Justin Medlock, Newton led two crisp and effective touchdown

drives. He connected on passes of 15 yards to Brandon LaFell and 18

yards to tight end Ben Hartsock to set up a 2-yard touchdown run by


A 39-yard pass interference penalty on Miami cornerback Sean

Smith led to Carolina’s next score as Newton rolled out and found

Williams for a 9-yard touchdown pass. Williams caught the ball in

stride, raced around right end and dived to get the ball inside the

pylon for a 17-0 lead.

”To be able to come out of the game at the end of the first

quarter because things were going well is ideal,” Panthers

offensive tackle Jordan Gross said. ”It was a good performance

offensively. It would have been fun to see what we could have done

if we had more time.”

Philbin isn’t pleased with the play of his defense through two


”Our biggest concern is getting off the field,” Philbin said.

”We haven’t stopped anybody yet. We haven’t gotten off the field

on third down, we haven’t tackled real well. We haven’t had a lot

of pass rush. I guess I’d better stop there.”

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