Panthers vs Dolphins recap: A tale of two halves...again

Chris Trotman

The Miami Dolphins once again dominated a team in the first half, only to watch everything turn around in the second half and walk away with a loss. This time, it was against the Carolina Panthers.

How many times will we see the same storyline rehashed and laid out in front of us as if it's something new? Unfortunately, this isn't a critique of Hollywood, but rather a look at the Miami Dolphins 2013 season. It seems to now be weekly that Miami jumps all over an opponent, dominating them for 30-minutes, only to not bother to show up for the second half.

The Dolphins losses this year, removing the blow out loss to the New Orleans Saints, have been by three, two, ten, three, and four. One double digit loss out of those five. One by more than four. Yet, on the record, those are L, L, L, L, and L.

Nov 24, 2013; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins wide receiver Mike Wallace (11) catches a touchdown pass past Carolina Panthers cornerback Captain Munnerlyn (41) in the first quarter of a game at Sun Life Stadium. (Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports)

Looking back at the games, Miami lost to the Baltimore Ravens 26-23 in Week 5. The Dolphins led 13-3 at the half.

Miami lost to the Buffalo Bills 23-21 in Week 7. The Dolphins led 21-17 at the end of the third quarter.

Miami lost to the New England Patriots 27-17 in Week 8. The Dolphins led 17-3 at the half.

Miami lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 22-19 in Week 10. The Dolphins led 19-15 at the end of the third quarter.

Yesterday, Miami lost to the Carolina Panthers 20-16 in Week 12. The Dolphins led 16-6 at the half.

How many times will we see the exact same story?

Miami absolutely dominated the Panthers in the first half. Ryan Tannehill was 12-for-19 for 203 yards with a touchdown and an interception, with a 94.8 passer rating at the end of the first half. He was 28-for-42 for 310 yards, with those same touchdown and interception, for an 86.4 passer rating at the end of the game.

Mike Wallace had three receptions for 110 yards and a touchdown in the first 30 minutes. He had two catches for 17 yards in the second half.

Brian Hartline? Three receptions for 49 yards in the first half versus two receptions for 29 yards in the second.

For the defense, Olivier Vernon and Dion Jordan both sacked Cam Newton, while Cameron Wake hit the Panthers' quarterback on seemingly every pass attempt. Wake literally bloodied Newton's mouth, causing him to start spitting blood in the first period. In the second half, no sacks. The pressure that clearly was having an impact on Newton early suddenly disappeared.

Nov 24, 2013; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins defensive end Dion Jordan (95) reacts after sacking Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) during the second quarter at Sun Life Stadium.(Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports)

A tale of two halves.

Dolphins led 16-6 at half time. Lost 14-0 in the second 30-minutes and took the overall loss 20-16.

Was it the underthrown deep balls from Tannehill? Was it the overthrown deep balls from Tannehill? Was it the helmet-to-helmet break up of a touchdown pass from Tannehill to Rishard Matthews that saw the flag picked up and Miami lose four points when they had to kick a field goal? Was it the drops from Charles Clay? Or Wallace's drop at the goal line? Was it the 8-play, 52-yard, 1:01 drive at the end of the first half for the Panthers to put up a field goal and take the momentum? Was it the late hit call when Newton slipped on the sideline cover?

Sure, take your pick. And, you know what, it's still L number six on the year. An L when the Dolphins were in position to sit all alone in the sixth seed of the playoffs.

Instead, they are now eleventh, in a six way tie of teams at 5-6 on the season.

Why are the Dolphins in this position? Second half collapses. Plain and simple. The early lead, only to lose in the second half was a concern about Tannehill before the draft. But, is it actually Tannehill, or is it his Texas A&M head coach turned Miami Dolphins offensive coordinator, Mike Sherman? Is it Tannehill not executing in the second half, or is it Sherman calling plays that simply aren't working - or failing to adjust to a defense giving him a different look, a different scheme?

The 2013 Miami Dolphins have a lot of problems, but they aren't problems the team cannot overcome. If they are going to overcome them, however, they are going to have to make some sort of major change. We all thought we were seeing that in the first half of Sunday's game, where the "rip it" mentality discussed all week seemed to be coming to fruition. But, in the end, even that was not enough.

With the playoffs miraculously still on the table, despite a sub-.500 record 12 weeks into the season, when will that change come? Will it be enough?

Or, will we wait until after the season is officially lost, and then see a much bigger change - and one that could send the Dolphins back into the "rebuilding" phase yet again?

Nov 24, 2013; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) is sacked by Carolina Panthers defensive tackle Dwan Edwards (92) and defensive end Mario Addison (97) on the final play of the game at Sun Life Stadium. The Panthers won 20-16. (Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports)

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