CHARLOTTE – The Panthers improved to 2-0 in the preseason with a 27-20 victory over the Dolphins at Bank of America Stadium on Friday night.
The offense started with a bang, as running back Christian McCaffrey burst through a hole off the right side for a 71-yard touchdown on Carolina’s second play from scrimmage. Head coach Ron Rivera opted to go for two, but it failed when Newton was sacked.
Miami responded with a 42-yard field goal and later tied the game with a 29-yarder following a Cam Newton interception on a throw to tight end Greg Olsen in double coverage.
The Dolphins took the lead with a 54-yard field goal in the second quarter, but Newton connected with rookie tight end Ian Thomas for a 27-yard touchdown to put the Panthers ahead 13-9 before halftime.
That was Newton’s final throw of the night, as he finished 9-of-12 for 89 yards with the one touchdown and interception.
Another Carolina turnover allowed Miami to cut into the deficit in the third quarter. Rookie wide receiver DJ Moore was crushed going for a pass over the middle, resulting in the ball popping into the air for an interception by safety Maurice Smith deep in Panthers’ territory. But Carolina forced the Dolphins to settle for yet another field goal, this time a 32-yarder.
A 39-yard connection down the sideline from Taylor Heinicke to Curtis Samuel put the Panthers in position to extend the lead. Running back Cameron Artis-Payne did just that with a 3-yard score, making it 20-12 early in the fourth quarter.
Kicker Graham Gano had a chance to increase the cushion following cornerback Corn Elder’s juggling interception, but he missed a 44-yard attempt.
Carolina running back Elijah Hood recorded a 3-yard touchdown run late following a pair of big runs but Kenjon Barner, and Dolphins quarterback Bryce Petty scrambled for a 14-yard score in the closing seconds.
Next up for the Panthers is a visit from the New England Patriots next Friday night.