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Dolphins at Panthers final score: Miami again strikes early with first team, drops game late

The Miami Dolphins and Carolina Panthers have completed their Preseason Week 2 contest. We take a look at the game.

Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins lost to the Carolina Panthers tonight in a Preseason Week 2 contest. The game, which featured a longer stretch of plays for both teams' starting players, was controlled early by Miami before tightening back up late in the first half and on into the second 30-minute period.

Miami's first three possessions ended with a punt, a touchdown, and a touchdown. The first drive last for six plays, picking up 14 yards and featured a sack of Ryan Tannehill, who fumbled but recovered the drop. Brandon Fields kicked the ball 52 yards which, along with a Carolina illegal block penalty, dropped the Panthers ofense to starting at their own seven-yard line.

The second drive saw Miami start at the Panthers' 49 yard line after a 21-yard punt return from LaMike James. Tannehill immediately went to work, connecting with tight end Jordan Cameron, wide receiver Jarvis Landry, and running back Lamar Miller on this first three plays to pick up a first down. Miller's reception was a short dump off from Tannehill, followed by a 36 yard run, after which Miller came back and ran for two yards on the next play, taking the ball down to the Carolina one-yard line. After an incomplete pass on third-and-goal, Miami went for it on fourth down, only to have the Panthers commit a holding penalty and give Miami another set of downs. The Dolphins would only need one more snap, as running back Damien Williams scored on a one-yard carry.

After another Carolina punt, the Dolphins began their third possession, still with the starters on the field, from their own 37-yard line. An up and down drive, Williams picked up eight yards on first down, followed by a loss of 10 yards on the next play. A deep pass down the sideline from Tannehill to Kenny Stills fell incomplete, with Jason Fox penalized on the play for holding. Tannehill then found Michael Preston on 1st and 20 for a six yard gain, with Williams giving back one of those yards on the next play, but Carolina would be called for offsides and give Miami a free five yards.

The drive continued with a Williams three-yard gain, followed by Tannehill taking over, throwing to Rishard Matthews, Camerson, Matt Hazel, Landry, and Matthews again, along with an 11-yard run. The starting offense's last play came on the first snap of the second quarter, with Tannehill finding Williams for an 11-yard touchdown pass and a 14-0 lead for the South Florida franchise.

The starting defense, not wanting to be out done, held Carolina to two straight three-and-outs on their first two possessions, then Jamar Taylor intercepted Cam Newton on the Panthers' first play of the second quarter - and first play after Miami's second touchdown. Taylor nearly scored on the play, but stepped out of bounds at the one-yard line.

Williams was given the ball on the first snap after the turn over and, originally called down at the one-yard line, Miami challenged whether or not Williams managed to get the ball over the goal line. Instead of the play coming into Miami's favor with a touchdown, the refs determined Williams actually fumbled the ball just shy of the goal line, with the ball bouncing into the endzone then out of bounds, giving possession to the Panthers.

Suddenly thrown back out on the field, the Miami starting defense gave up 79 yards on the drive. Luckily, the Panthers needed to go 80 yards, with Derrick Shelby making a 4th-and-goal tackle of Cam Newton to give the ball back to Miami.

The game then become a kicking fest for the rest of the half, with Miami punting on two of their last four possession (taking a knee on the final one to kill the first half clock), while Carolina kicked field goals on each of their last three times with the ball, hitting from 48 yards, 46 yards, and 52 yards.

The missing Miami possession was a Matt Moore interception.

The second half started with the Miami defense holding Carolina to a three-and-out. The Dolphins offense, led by Moore, then found a rhythm and drove 65 yards in 13 plays, capped by a 4-yard touchdown pass from Moore to Hazel. Hazel had 32 of the 65 yards on the drive, including a 24 yard catch and run on 3rd and 8.

Carolina answered with a touchdown drive of their own, going 80 yards in 11 plays. The drive culminated with a 9-yard rush from Brandon Wegher.

Heading into the fourth quarter, the score was 21-16 after Miami when three-and-out.

Carolina matched Miami's three-and-out, before the Dolphins extended the lead to 24-16 on a 50-yard field goal from Caleb Sturgis.

After another round of  traded punts, the game suddenly swung in favor of the Panthers. They drove from their own 35-yard line to score on an 18-yard Joe Webb pass to Damiere Byrd, followed by a successful two-point conversion run from Webb.

Tied at 24, the Dolphins got the ball back at their own 19-yard line, only to see Josh Freeman throw an interception on the first play of the drive and Carolina returning it to the Miami 4-yard line. One play later, and the Dolphins trailed for the first time all day, with the Panthers taking a 31-24 lead.

On the next possession, Freeman connected with tight end Gerell Robinson, who ran 56 yards for a score. Miami then attempted a two-point conversion, which failed, leaving Carolina in the lead at 31-30.

The Panthers killed the clock on their next drive, giving them the 31-30 win.

The Dolphins next face the Atlanta Falcons at 7pm ET on Saturday, August 29.