Panthers rally past Dolphins for seventh straight victory

nfl-Cam-Newton-PanthersQuarterback Cam Newton tossed a one-yard touchdown pass to tight end Greg Olsen with 43 seconds remaining to rally the Carolina Panthers from a 13-point deficit to a 20-16 victory over the Miami Dolphins Sunday afternoon at Sun Life Stadium.

The Panthers (8-3) have won seven straight games, the longest active winning streak in the NFL.

Miami (5-6) built a 16-3 lead but failed to run the ball effectively and could not hold on, allowing the Panthers to convert fourth-down plays on two key drives late in the game.

Trailing 16-13 with 2:33 left in the game, the Panthers converted a fourth-and-10 from their own 20 when Newton completed a pass to Steve Smith. The critical connection led to a 12-play, 80-yard touchdown drive kept alive by a late-hit penalty on Dolphins safety Reshad Jones, who struck Newton while he was out of bounds.

Miami had one last chance in the final seconds and nearly hit it big on a deep pass to wide receiver Mike Wallace, which fell incomplete near the goal line. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill was sacked on the next play to end the game.

Carolina took the second-half kickoff and drove 83 yards on 14 plays for a touchdown to cut Miami’s lead to 16-13. Panthers coach Ron Rivera’s decision to go for it on fourth-and-1 from the Panthers’ 41 proved a wise risk. Newton gained eight yards on a quarterback keeper and then scored on a 5-yard run to make it 16-13 with 8:19 left.

The Dolphins took a 7-3 lead with 5:39 to go in the first quarter on a 53-yard touchdown pass from Tannehill to Wallace. Tannehill scrambled to his right on a bootleg and found Wallace behind the Panthers’ defense. It was just the second TD catch of the season for Wallace and his longest reception as a Dolphin.

The Dolphins added three second-quarter field goals — 32, 47 and 23 yards by Caleb Sturgis — to take a 16-3 lead. Carolina’s Graham Gano made a 46-yard field goal on the final play of the half to cut Miami’s lead to 16-6.

Tannehill’s second pass of the game was intercepted in one of the wackiest picks of the year. It was tipped a half-dozen times by several players before cornerback Josh Thomas’ grabbed it at the Dolphins’ 43.That set up Gano’s 35-yard field-goal attempt, which was blocked.

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