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2021 Panthers vs Dolphins final score and immediate reactions

Carolina Panthers v Miami Dolphins Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images

The Miami Dolphins hosted the Carolina Panthers on Sunday as part of the NFL’s Week 12 slate of games. They were not ideal hosts as they dominated the Panthers from beginning to end of the game. They executed in all three phases of the game and did not allow Carolina to do anything.

The game ended with Carolina tallying 10 total first downs compared to Miami’s 22, Carolina picking up 198 yards on offense, compared to Miami’s 315 (against the number two defense in the league), and the Dolphins forcing Cam Newton out of the game on a 5-for-22 day.

Final Score

Pathers 10 - Dolphins 33

First Quarter

The Panthers won the toss and deferred, putting Miami on offense first. Starting at their own 25-yard line, Miami turned to wide receiver Albert Wilson to start the drive, with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa finding him in the flat for a two-yard gain. Tagovailoa then threw to tight end Mike Gesicki for a five-yard gain, but a roughing the passer penalty moved the Dolphins up to their own 47-yard line and gave them a free first down. After a rush from running back Myles Gaskin picked up no yards and a one-yard loss on a pass to Wilson, the Dolphins faced 3rd-and-11, but converted on a slant from wide receiver Jaylen Waddle, who caught the pass and turned upfield for a 25-yard gain. The drive stalled there, however. Two Gaskin runs picked up five yards, then Tagovailoa was sacked, with tackle Jesse Davis falling on the fumble to allow Miami to punt.

What looked like a solid opening drive, and would have been the first touchdown allowed on an opening drive by the Panthers this season should the Dolphins have scored, just suddenly halted. Miami cannot have endings to possessions like that.

The Panthers started with the ball at their own five-yard line, with the first pass falling incomplete. Miami challenged the ruling, hoping it would turn into a completed pass and a fumble, but the call stood. Running back Christian McCaffrey ran for four yards, but quarterback Cam Newton threw incomplete and the Panthers were forced to punt on a three-and-out drive. Miami blocked the punt, however, with Duke Riley able to get through the line untouched to get a hand on the kick and Justin Coleman caught the loose ball and backed his way into the endzone. Dolphins 7-0.

Good opening drive for the Dolphins defense, who forced a three-and-out. The challenge was probably unnecessary, given it was very unlikely the call would be changed from an incomplete pass to a completion - it was just too quick a play. The punt block was beautiful, but have to assume someone will block Riley on the next punt, so probably not some scheme thing that can keep working.

The second possession for the Panthers was much more effective for the visiting team. After McCaffrey wan for four yards and Newton threw an incomplete pass, suddenly received DJ Moore was running behind the Dolphins defense with no one near him. Both of Miami’s starting cornerbacks, Xavien Howard and Byron Jones, seemed like they were responsible for Moore, but they were beaten for a 64-yard pass. After McCaffrey was stopped for a four-yard gain, then Newton picked up two yards, on 3rd-and-Goal from the Miami one-yard line, Newton ran into a wall of Dolphins defenders, but was pulled off the pile by guard Trent Lott and fell into the endzone to tie the game. Tied 7-7.

The drive was really defined by the long play, and it does not make much sense what happened there. Howard looked like he was initially in coverage, with a zero-safety scheme as Miami blitzed. Then Jones dropped off his coverage and went with Moore as well. Howard looked like he might have been expecting something short, so he was not set for Moore to blow past him, and neither Howard nor Jones was able to be in position to stop the pass. Just a blown coverage that oddly involved both of Miami’s top cornerbacks.

The Dolphins took possession at their own 25-yard line after a touchback, with Gaskin kicking up six yards, then Tagovailoa throwing to wide receiver Preston Williams for four yards to begin the possession. After Gaskin picked up three yards, Tagovailoa was able to find Waddle in the middle of the field for a 10-yard gain and a first down. A one-yard run from running back Salvon Ahmed, followed by a Tagovailoa pass to tight end Durham Smythe for six yards, and a sack of Tagovailoa for an eight-yard loss, ended the drive and led to another punt.

Another promising drive ended with a sack. The offensive line is already causing problems today. They need to tighten up now.

The Panthers started the drive at their own nine-yard line after the punt, with McCaffrey giving the team some breathing room with a 15-yard run. McCaffrey then picked up another five yards, followed by a four-yard pass from Newton to tight end Tommy Tremble, leading to the end of the quarter.

Second quarter

Newton ran the ball on the first play after the break, picking up two yards to convert on 3rd-and-1. McCaffrey then picked up two yards, followed by another run for three yards. On 3rd-and-5, Newton looked to Robbie Anderson, but safety Jevon Holland stepped in front and picked off the pass.

Holland is just a beast!

Beginning with the ball at their own 47-yard line, Miami was unable to do anything, picking up just five yards on a Phillip Lindsay second-down run. Tagovailoa had to throw a hurried pass on third down after the shotgun snap hit the ground. The Dolphins punted on the three-and-out.

What a waste of the interception.

After the punt, Carolina started at their own 13-yard line. After an offensive holding penalty backed up the offense to their own seven-yard line, McCaffrey ran for a one-yard gain. On 2nd-and-15, Newton looked deep for Moore, but Howard stepped in front and picked off the pass.


The Dolphins began with the ball at the Carolina nine-yard line after the Howard interception return. Tagovailoa threw to Waddle on first down, but did not pick up any yardage. Gaskin then ran for no gain. Facing 3rd-and-Goal from the nine-yard line, Tagovailoa threw a laser to Waddle for the touchdown. Dolphins 14-7.

That is how you are supposed to make a team pay for throwing an interception. And that was an absolute fastball from Tagovailoa to Waddle.

Starting at the 25-yard line, Carolina looked to shake off the two interceptions. Running back Chuba Hubbard picked up a yard on first down, then McCaffrey lost three yards. After a Newton incomplete pass, the Panthers were forced to punt on the three-and-out drive

Miami is on a roll right now. Two picks by the defense, followed by a three-and-out on a negative yardage possession by the Panthers. The defense is feeling this game right now and are looking to force the Panthers to pass instead of relying on Newton and McCaffrey to run.

A 57-yard punt forced Miami to start at their own 27-yard line. Lindsay picked up two yards on the first play, then Tagovailoa threw short to Waddle, who turned it into a 57-yard gain as he turned upfield and moved the ball to the Carolina 14-yard line. Ahmed picked up nine yards on a pass from Tagovailoa, but an incomplete pass on second down led to Miami facing a 3rd-and-1 from the Carolina five-yard line. Tagovailoa then took the ball off the left end and picked up two yards, immediately sliding after getting the first down. Gaskin then took the first down snap in a Wildcat formation and ran it into the endzone for the score. Dolphins 21-7.

Tua to Waddle is a special duo. Even if we are not seeing the deep throws to Waddle, the two of them are able to connect, and Waddle with the ball in his hands is going to make short passes into big gains. Miami is taking it to the Panthers right now.

After a false start began the Panthers’ drive, they were set up with a 1st-and-15 from their 20-yard line. McCaffrey picked up nothing on a handoff as Andrew Van Ginkel and Zach Sieler met the running back at the line of scrimmage. Then Newton was incomplete twice, including Sieler batting down the ball at the line of scrimmage. Carolina again punted on a three-and-out drive.

Miami’s defense is doing some work right now.

With 3:26 left in the half, Miami began with the ball at their 32-yard line. Gaskin picked up seven yards on the first two plays, then caught a pass for five yards to give Miami a first down as the clock hit the two-minute warning. Ahmed ran on first down for a three-yard loss, with Carolina calling timeout. Tagovailoa then threw to Wilson for five yards, setting up 3rd-and-8 following another Panthers timeout. After two straight false starts, one from Wilson and one from Waddle, Miami faced 3rd-and-13, so they elected to just run it for a three-yard gain. Following the final timeout from the Panthers, the Dolphins punted.

Tagovailoa was hot after the first false start, yelling at Wilson. The second one got the offensive line involved as Austin Jackson yelled at Waddle. Those two penalties crushed any Miami chance at another scoring drive.

After a fourth punt from Miami’s Michael Palardy pinned the Panthers inside their own 20-yard line, Carolina began their drive at the 15-yard line, with Newton connecting with Ameer Abdullah for 13 yards on second down after missing him on first down. Two more incomplete passes targeting Abdullah was followed by an incomplete pass targeting tight end Ian Thomas, leading to a punt.

The Dolphins defense continued to attack, with more passes batted at the line of scrimmage and forcing the Panthers into another punt. Miami gets the ball with a chance to put up points before the half.

Miami started the drive with the ball at their 32-yard line with 53 seconds on the clock. Tagovailoa threw to Gaskin for five yards, then to tight end Mike Gesicki for seven yards. Waddle caught the next pass for 11 yards, with Miami calling a timeout. Tagovailoa then threw to wide receiver Isaiah Ford for 11 yards, with another timeout. Tagovailoa to Waddle picked up seven yards, with the receiver able to get out of bounds to stop the clock. On 2nd-and-3 from the Panthers’ 27 with 12 seconds on the clock, it appeared Miami was going to at least get a field goal, but another low snap rolled past Tagovailoa, who tried to pick it up, but the Panthers were able to grab it and return it to the Miami 23-yard line.

That was a great-looking drive for the Dolphins until another low snap came in. Center Austin Reiter needs to clean that up. The Dolphins likely will hope Michael Deiter is ready to return from injured reserve next week; he began practicing this week.

With the one second the referees put back on the clock after the fumble return, the Panthers kicked a field goal. Dolphins 21-10.


Halftime Reactions

What a great first half for the Dolphins. All three aspects of the game are contributing. The defense is dominating right now. The offense is able to find a rhythm and get moving - especially with Waddle who has seven receptions for 119 yards and a touchdown in the first half. He is closing in on the Dolphins rookie records for yardage (about 140 yards short of Chris Chambers) and receptions (nine short of Jarvis Landry).

Third Quarter

The Panthers opened the second half at their own 25-yard line after a touchback. Newton found Moore for four yards to start the drive, then Hubbard ran for five yards. On 3rd-and-1, Abdullah lost a yard, leading to a three-and-out punt on 4th-and-2. The Panthers faked the punt, however, and picked up a first down. Newton threw incomplete on the first play, then a delay of game backed Carolina up five yards. Newton threw another incomplete pass on 2nd-and-15, then found Abdullah for just seven yards leading to a punt.

The defense has not lost a step after the halftime break. They are still getting after the Panthers offense and making it hard for them to do anything.

Miami began the drive at their own 20-yard line, with Tagovailoa turning to Waddle for a seven-yard gain. Gaskin picked up two yards, then Ahmed converted the first down with a 16-yard run. After no gain on an Ahmed run, Miami came back to the run-pass option, with Tagovailoa throwing to tight end Durham Smythe for a four-yard gain. Tagovailoa then went to Waddle for 11 yards and back to Smythe for 11 yards, moving the ball to the Carolina 29-yard line. Lindsay picked up two yards on first down, then, after a holding penalty on guard Austin Jackson, Gaskin picked up four yards, with the Panthers called for taunting, giving Miami a free first down and 15 yards. Now at the Carolina 18-yard line, Tagovailoa again turned to the RPO pass to Smythe, this time for nine yards. Gaskin then picked up four yards, with Tagovailoa throwing the RPO pass to Smythe again, this time for two yards. On 2nd-and-Goal from the three-yard line, Gaskin took the Wildcat snap for the touchdown. Kicker Jason Sanders hit the left upright on the extra-point attempt. Dolphins 27-10.

Miami ate 7:24 on that drive, methodically attacking the Panthers while keeping the clock running. That was an impressive drive.

A touchback set up the Panthers at their 25-yard line, but then an offensive holding penalty backed them up to the 15-yard line. After an incomplete pass, Newton was sacked at the one-yard line by Jaelan Phillips, barely keeping the ball out of the endzone for a potential safety. On 3rd-and-34, Newton threw short to Hubbard, but it fell incomplete and the Panthers punted.

This defense is dominating. Simply destroying everything the Panthers are trying to do.

A 12-yard return on the punt by Holland set up the Dolphins at the Carolina 47-yard line. Lindsay picked up eight yards, then again for seven yards, then two yards to end the quarter.

Fourth Quarter

Lindsay continued to carry the ball after the break, but did not pick up any yardage. Ahmed then came in for three yards to convert on a 4th-and-1 attempt. Tagovailoa threw to Gaskin in the flat on first down, but the play lost two yards. After an offensive holding penalty and a false start backed up Miami into a 2nd-and-27, Gaskin picked up eight yards. Tagovailoa then threw to Wilson for five yards, leading to a 46-yard field goal from Sanders. Dolphins 30-10.

Another dominating drive from Miami’s offense, eating up as much of the clock as they could. This time, they took 6:34 to go 19 yards and extend the lead.

Newton was pulled for PJ Walker at the start of the next Panthers drive, being welcomed to the game with a nine-yard loss as Emmanuel Ogbah broke through for the sack. Walked then was able to find Moore for an 18-yard gain. On 3rd-and-1, Abdullah picked up five yards. Walker was then sacked again, this time with Jaelan Phillips recording his second sack of the game. On 2nd-and-20, Walker narrowly avoided another Phillips sack, then threw toward Thomas, with Van Ginkel tipping the pass and Nik Needham coming up with the interception.

Newton was 5-for-21 for 92 yards with two interceptions, giving him a 5.8 passer rating. The Dolphins just dominated Newton all day. They did not let up with Walker coming into the game, and they forced another turnover.

The Dolphins continued to look to eat clock as they got the ball back at the Panthers’ 37-yard line. Lindsay ran for two yards, then one yard on the first two plays, with Tagovailoa finding Wilson for six yards on 3rd-and-7. On 4th-and-1, Smythe took the first snap up the middle to convert for the first down. Lindsay then added nine yards before Miami repeated the Smythe direct snap for the first down. Lindsay then added another yard before an incomplete pass and a one-yard run from Gaskin brought Sanders back out. The kicker connected on the 33-yard attempt. Dolphins 33-10.

Miami ate up another 5:22 to set up the field goal.

The Panthers started at the 25-yard line with the touchback. Walker came out throwing, picking up 24 yards on a pass to wide receiver Brandon Zylstra. A false start backed up the Panthers, with Walker throwing two incomplete passes before finding wide receiver Alex Erickson for 13 yards. On 4th-and-2, Walker connected with Anderson for 15 yards, then he found Moore for 17 yards. Walker was sacked by Jaelan Phillips as the clock reached the two-minute warning. Walker then threw incomplete, followed by another sack, this time from Christian Wilkins. On 4th-and-22 at the Miami 23, Walker looked to the endzone for Zylstra, but it was too high and the Panthers turned the ball over on downs.

When this defense has a lead, they are scary.

Miami knelt twice to kill the clock.