B- Ryan Tannehill had a good day. He should have had a great day. Yes, Tannehill completed 28 of 42 for 310 yard but he missed on three deep passes to a wide open Mike Wallace that would have been touchdowns had the quarterback hit the receiver in stride. Tannehill did show nice athleticism on rollouts and actually took a page out of Cam Newton’s book and gained 36 rushing yards on four attempts.
B If Mike Wallace had held on to that final bomb thrown to him 60 yards in the air to the 1 yard line, the Dolphins might have left the field winners. But Wallace, who had an otherwise outstanding game, dropped the big one. Several of Miami’s receivers made Carolina’s secondary look like Swiss cheese as Brian Hartline averaged 15.6 yards on five receptions and Marlon Moore did damage with two catches for 20 yards. But Rishard Matthews dropped a possible touchdown pass and Charles Clay, so key in recent weeks, was limited to check down catches in the flat.
D There was no room to run. It’s not possible to gain yardage when the hole that is supposed to be there is not only clogged but clogged three or four yards behind the line of scrimmage. Any day when the quarterback is the leading rusher is a bad day. Any day when Daniel Thomas leaves the locker room on crutches and wearing a boot because of an ankle injury suggests Mike Gillislee is getting a call to action next week. GRADE: D.
C- Sam Brenner fairy tale ended with him on the ground writhing in pain after hurting right knee. He said he’ll be fine, but it’s clear the Dolphins are hoping they can move Nate Garner back to left guard and insert Mike Pouncey back at center next week. John Jerry had a couple of penalties and gave up a sack. Bryant McKinnie gave up a sack. And the Dolphins averaged 3.1 yards per carry. Any more questions?
C The line got after Cam Newton early in the game. They weren’t sacking him but they bloodied him. Literally. Cameron Wake hit Newton in the mouth and left the QB spitting up blood. Unfortunately for Miami, the Carolina persistent running game left them scarred as well. The Panthers rushed for 136 yards and averaged 4.7 yards per rush. Yes, Newton had 51 of those yards but that should come as no surprise to a team that knew they were facing a running as well as throwing QB.
C+ Phillip Wheeler had a fine game. He had nine tackles to lead the Dolphins and had three passes defensed. He was more than solid. Dannell Ellerbe had six tackles but too many of those came downfield rather than while filling a gap in the line. Koa Misi was also active in coverage. He had one pass defensed.
B Brent Grimes picked up Steve Smith the entire day and contained him much of the day. But on a critical fourth-and-10 in the fourth quarter, that was Grimes giving up the completion and then he and Chris Clemons missed a tackle. Reshad Jones hopefully learned a hard lesson that once the quarterback is out of bounds, do not push him – even lightly. That’s how Cam Newton drew a 15-yard penalty. Nolan Carroll had perhaps the best game of his career with an interception and a four passes defensed.
C Brandon Fields is a field-flipping machine but so was Carolina’s punter and that nullified the Miami punter’s effort. The Dolphins simply are not getting enough out of their return game. And while rookie Caleb Sturgis was good from short and intermediate distances, his 53-yard field goal wasn’t close.
C The terrible defensive call at the end of the first half cost the Dolphins three points and the use of timeouts too early on the final drive would have left Miami in a can’t-win situation even if that long improbable pass to Mike Wallace had been completed and downed at the 1-yard line.
D The Dolphins don’t enjoy any significant home field advantage.