All plays count, but some count more than others.
And Jay Cutler’s late-half interception here Monday night was as big as they get.
It turned a close game into a rout. The Dolphins led by 3, with the ball at their own 20 and less than a minute left in regulation.
Adam Gase made the mistake of running offense instead of kneeling out the half.
And Cutler made the mistake of throwing into double coverage. Luke Kuechly showed great range to get to Cutler’s sideline pass intended for Julius Thomas. Shortly thereafter, the Panthers were in the end zone — and never looked back. Carolina scored touchdowns on five straight possessions to win a laugher.
Both coach and quarterback discussed the sequence afterward.
Gase, on the decision to throw the ball at that spot in the game: “I felt like we were moving the ball pretty good. Had a good feeling as far as what they were going to play. I just didn’t think he was going to push that far on that coverage.”
Cutler, on the throw: “We got the coverage we wanted. They just pushed a little bit, and I have to lay it out there a little more. It was a bad ball by me, and it put us in a bad spot. ... We felt good. We made a good call there. I just have to make a better play.”
It was just Cutler’s sixth interception and his first in 65 passing attempts.
Cutler finished 22 of 37 for 213 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
“I felt like we moved the ball pretty good on this football team,” center Mike Pouncey said. “This team has a really good defense. Obviously, we didn't put up enough points to win the football game. We just got to play better team football. Whenever our offense is playing good ... We've just got to play better in all three phases. If we do that, we can finally put together a good game.”
Nearly a quarter of Miami’s offensive output came on one play: Kenyan Drake’s 69-yard touchdown run. It was by far the longest play of the season, and Drake has been a rare bright spot the last two weeks. In the two games since the Dolphins traded Jay Ajayi to Philadelphia, Drake has carried the ball 16 times for 151 yards (a 9.4 average).
“They're a pretty good defense,” Drake said. “Obviously, you have to give credit to them. They are able to neutralize our game plan, but our O-line, that's how a game's supposed to go along. We get stronger. We're able to score points in the second half, take a little pressure off of the scoreboard. They did a great job opening up that whole. I didn't get touched until I got toward the end zone. You've got to make the best of what you have.”
▪ Damien Williams started despite missing two days of practice because of illness.
While he was light on details, Williams said that he was not hospitalized but needed IVs.
“I would say I kind of made myself [practice],” Williams said. “At the end of the day, this is your profession. Be a professional. Get out there.
Did he lose weight?
“I really didn't even check the scales. I didn't want to, to be real. At the end of the day, weight is a sticky situation. I didn't want to see if I lose.”