Week 3 Game Recap: Carolina Panthers 24, Miami Dolphins 27
What you need to know
In last week’s victory over New England, the one-two punch of Stephen Davis and DeShaun Foster combined for 114 yards and three touchdowns. In this game, they struggled, combining for only 63 yards and no rushing touchdowns. Davis was stuffed on consecutive carries from inside the Miami two yard line and finished the game with only 36 rushing yards.
Jake Delhomme looked unstoppable in the first half, hitting Steve Smith all over the field, racking up 187 yards and two passing touchdowns. He continued to look sharp in the second half, tying the score at 24 midway through the fourth quarter on Steve Smith’s 53 yard touchdown reception. On their next possession, Delhomme was driving his team down the field for a game winning field goal attempt when he faltered and threw an easy interception to the Dolphins’ Lance Schulters. Delhomme would not have a chance to redeem himself as the ensuing Dolphins’ drive resulted in a game winning Olindo Mare field goal.
Steve Smith muffed a punt in the first quarter giving the Dolphins the ball inside the Carolina red zone. This mistake must have really angered him, because he rebounded and had a career game, scoring three touchdowns, including a 53 yarder in the fourth quarter. He was targeted 15 times, catching 11 balls for 170 yards.
Ronnie Brown came out ready to prove his critics wrong. Though he only gained 29 yards in the first half, but he broke tackles, ran smart and scored his first NFL touchdown. In the fourth quarter, Brown found a small hole in the line, split a pair of linebackers, and broke a tackle in the secondary on the way to a 53 yard gain. He platooned with Sammy Morris for the balance of the contest and recorded his first NFL 100 yard game.
Gus Frerotte made his third consecutive start, something he hadn’t done since the 2003 season, and played a sound, almost mistake free game. His first half stats were strong, completing 11 of 21 passes for 144 yards and two touchdowns. The Dolphins’ rushing game took over in the second half and Frerotte only connected on 25% of his 12 passes for 27 yards. He was intercepted once, in the Panthers’ end zone.
Chris Chambers put in a strong effort today, catching six passes for 93 yards on 12 targets. He found the end zone by outrunning his coverage, then stopping to come back and reel in Frerotte’s under thrown pass. No other Dolphins’ receiver had more than six targets.
What you ought to know
Delhomme showed excellent vision, seeing Steve Smith wherever he was running to. The Dolphins threw some blitz packages at him in the second half and recorded four sacks on the game, but Delhomme rebounded to knot the score at 24 with seven minutes left to play. He looked like the winning quarterback all day until he was picked off near the Miami goal line with under two minutes left to play.
Davis had been the master of the short touchdown this season, but failed to score on consecutive carries from inside the Miami two yard line. Davis really struggled; splitting his 16 carries evenly between the two halves and gaining only 36 rushing yards. He added 16 passing yards on two receptions, including one red zone target, but did not find the end zone.
Foster looked like the better Carolina running back, but that’s not saying much. He was the Panthers’ second leading receiver with three catches for 48 yards on four targets, but like his stable mate Stephen Davis, did not find pay dirt.
|WR Steve Smith, Rush: 2 - -2 - 0, Rec: 11 - 170 - 3 (15 targets)|
Smith had a career day and was far and away Jake Delhomme’s favorite target. It didn’t matter where Smith lined up or what type of route he ran, Delhomme found him, 11 times for 170 yards and three trips to the end zone. Smith’s 53 yard touchdown in the fourth quarter was a testament to his scoring desire as he accelerated through the middle of the field, swatting a would-be tackler to the ground.
Proehl’s solitary reception was a fantastic catch, a tribute to his longevity in the NFL.
Colbert didn’t make a catch, but drew three downfield pass interference calls.
Mangum continues to play well, but is uninspiring to most fantasy owners.
Kasay was perfect, hitting all three extra points and a 52 yard field goal.
The Panthers’ run defense limited Ronnie Brown to only 29 yards on 12 carries in the first half, but allowed him into the end zone. They looked to wear down in the second half as Brown ripped off a number of nice gains, including the longest run of his career for 58 yards. The Panthers did not do a good job tackling and Brown made their miscues pay off.
With CB Ken Lucas out, Gus Frerotte was looking to the air early and often, hanging 144 yards and two passing touchdowns on the Panthers in the first half. In the second half, the Dolphins’ running game took over and Frerotte only connected three times on 12 attempts for 27 yards. Most discouraging to Panthers’ defense owners would have to be their inability to get to Frerotte, recording no sacks and rarely even hurrying his plans.
|QB Gus Frerotte, Pass: 14 - 33 - 171 - 2 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 1 - -3 - 0|
The preseason quarterback controversy is only a few weeks in the past and Gus Frerotte continued to solidify his case. Though his stat line looks mediocre at best, he made the plays in the first half that kept his team ahead in this game. He looked comfortable in the offense, scanning the field for open receivers and checking down to his safety valve when necessary. More importantly, he had the time to do this. He looked sharp in threading a pass between two Carolina defenders to hit Randy McMichael for a first quarter touchdown.
|RB Ronnie Brown, Rush: 23 - 132 - 1, Rec: 3 - 15 - 0 (4 targets)|
Brown recorded his first NFL 100 yard game, first NFL touchdown and longest NFL rush. He looked strong in shedding would be tacklers and showed good vision in hitting the holes his offensive line gave him. Brown had a beautiful 58 yard run in the fourth quarter, exploiting a small hole in the line, splitting two line backers and breaking a tackle in the secondary. The Cadillac Williams vs. Ronnie Brown debate will likely continue all season, and Brown has finally begun to state his case.
|RB Sammy Morris, Rush: 5 - 10 - 0, Rec: 1 - 18 - 0 (3 targets)|
Morris came in and spelled Ronnie Brown on a third quarter Dolphins’ possession and shared the backfield duties in the fourth quarter with minimal success. He also had a nine yard reception nullified by a holding penalty.
Chambers was far and away Gus Frerotte’s primary target, though he garnered no red zone looks. His second quarter touchdown was an incredible one-handed grab that was originally ruled down at the one yard line, but upon review was ruled correctly as a touchdown.
Both of his catches and five of his six targets came in the first half when Frerotte was still hitting the air with frequency. Booker had coverage beaten for a touchdown once in the first quarter, but Frerotte overthrew him.
His lone target came in the first quarter.
The veteran wide receiver made one grab in the first quarter.
The once formidable receiver doesn’t seem to have much left in his tank.
McMichael only caught one pass, but it was a fantastic catch for an 18 yard touchdown. He was the only receiver targeted in the red zone, garnering all three of Frerotte’s looks.
Mare was perfect on two short field goals and three extra points.
Stephen Davis and DeShaun Foster struggled mightily against the Dolphins’ defensive line, combining for only 63 yards on 24 carries. Davis had consecutive carries from inside the Dolphin’s two yard line in the first half, but was unable to break the plane. Neither running back had a double digit carry.
In the first half, Jake Delhomme and company had their way with the oldest defense in the NFL. Delhomme found Steve Smith seven times for 92 yards and a pair of touchdowns. In the second half, the Dolphins ran some different blitz packages and were able to slow Delhomme down, sacking him four times and recovering a fumble. In addition to the sacks, Delhomme had two passes batted down at the line of scrimmage. The straw that broke the Panthers’ back, however, was Lance Schulter’s fourth quarter interception of a poorly thrown Delhomme pass. The Panthers were in field goal position and likely would have won the game.