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Lucky 7: Panthers extend win streak on late TD

Nov 24, 2013 - 11:31 PM Miami, FL ( - Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers found a way to win again.

Newton finished an 80-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown pass to Greg Olsen with 43 seconds remaining, giving the Panthers a 20-16 victory over the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium.

Newton threw for 174 yards and ran for 51 yards with a score for the Panthers (8-3), who extended their winning streak to seven straight games. Carolina, which also won seven in a row in 2003, remained one game behind first-place New Orleans in the NFC South.

Ryan Tannehill and Mike Wallace hooked up for a 53-yard touchdown in the first quarter for Miami, but the Dolphins managed only a trio of field goals in the second quarter when they were dominating play and were shutout in the second half.

It was a bitter end to a trying week for the Dolphins (5-6), who failed to build off last Sunday's 20-16 win over San Diego.

Miami players, coaches and team officials were busy this week with questions from NFL special investigator Ted Wells concerning the team's workplace conduct in the wake of the Jonathan Martin-Richie Incognito incident. The Dolphins fell to 2-2 since Martin left the team because of alleged bullying.

After pulling within three with a touchdown on their first series of the third quarter, the Panthers failed to cross midfield with any of their next three possessions and got the ball back one more time with 4:13 left on their own 20.

A penalty negated a big play on first down and the Panthers quickly faced 4th- and-10 but decided against a punt. Steve Smith converted with a 19-yard catch and a late hit against Newton out of bounds a few plays later pushed the ball to the Miami 29.

Mike Tolbert then ran for 15 yards on 3rd-and-2 to set up a first down at the Miami 6-yard line and Newton found Olsen in the end zone from the one two plays later to put the Panthers in front.

The Dolphins nearly pulled off a miracle play in the closing seconds when Tannehill's long throw from the Miami 40 went off the hands of Wallace in traffic at the goal line. A sack on the next play ended the contest.

"When you've got the ball in your hands, you've got to catch the ball," said Miami head coach Joe Philbin. "We did have good field position a couple of times and didn't capitalize. We talked to our team about playing a very hot football team that had won six games in a row. You have to capitalize when you have opportunities when they present themselves."

Tannehill finished 28-of-42 for 310 yards with a touchdown and an interception, while Wallace caught five passes for 127 yards. The two have had trouble connecting on long passes all year and despite two big plays, missed a couple of others that could have helped put the game out of reach.

Miami again had trouble running the football, finishing with 52 yards -- 36 coming from four Tannehill scrambles.

Tannehill was picked off on Miami's third play from scrimmage, but the Panthers were unable to cash in after Graham Gano drilled a 35-yard field goal attempt into his own line. Gano was able to turn a 41-yard punt return by former Dolphin Ted Ginn, Jr. into a 52-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead on the next Carolina possession.

It took the Dolphins just over a minute to answer, as Wallace adjusted to an underthrown Tannehill deep pass for a 53-yard touchdown. It was the first touchdown allowed by the Carolina defense in the first quarter this season.

Tannehill found Wallace for 57 yards in the first minute of the second quarter, leading to a 32-yard Caleb Sturgis field goal for a 10-3 advantage. Sturgis added a 47-yard kick after a 21-yard connection between Tannehill and Brian Hartline, then followed with a 23-yard field goal with 1:01 to play in the half after Nolan Carroll picked off Newton.

The Dolphins were denied a touchdown after the Carroll interception, as Carolina linebacker Luke Kuechly separated Miami receiver Rishard Matthews from the ball in the back of the end zone with a vicious hit. A flag was thrown for unnecessary roughness, but officials discussed the play and picked up the marker.

Gano pulled the Panthers within 10 at the break with a 46-yard field goal as time expired. Brandon LaFell caught a short pass from Newton and raced 29 yards before stepping out of bounds with one second left to set up Gano's kick.

The Panthers then took the second half kickoff and marched 83 yards in 14 plays for their first touchdown. Newton kept it alive early with a 12-yard strike to Smith on 3rd-and-7, then picked up a first down on 4th-and-1 from the Carolina 41 and found the end zone from five yards away to cap the nearly seven-minute possession.

"We came out in the second half and got the opening kickoff and had some energy," said Carolina head coach Ron Rivera. "I thought the defense continued to play with a lot of effort and heart. Did some really good things but some silly things that have to get corrected as far as defense is concerned."

Miami didn't mount much of an offensive threat until the fourth quarter when Sturgis missed a 53-yard field goal try with 7:22 remaining.

Carolina converted a third down on its next series to cross midfield, but a holding penalty negated what would have resulted in a first down at the Miami 45 and an incomplete pass on the ensuing play forced a punt.

Game Notes

Eight of Miami's 11 games this season have been decided by four points or less ... Smith became the 22nd player to reach 12,000 career receiving yards ... The Dolphins have not scored a fourth-quarter touchdown since Week 5 against Baltimore ... Miami running back Daniel Thomas left the contest with a left ankle injury on the final play of the third quarter and guard Sam Brenner was carted to the locker room after hurting his left knee early in the fourth.