Morgan, Panthers Suffer Tough Loss

MIAMI, Fla. - The Miami Dolphins defeated the Carolina Panthers 27-24 Sunday afternoon on a game-winning 32-yard field goal by Olindo Mare with four seconds left in the game. After the game we caught up with Carolina linebacker and former Hurricane Dan Morgan, who led the Panthers with 11 tackles.

With the score tied 24-24 in the fourth quarter Carolina had momentum and the ball on the Miami 43-yardline with two minutes remaining in the game. Following the two minute warning quarterback Jake Delhomme threw an interception that was returned 37 yards by Lance Schulters to give the Dolphins the ball on the Carolina 25-yardline. Four plays later Mare would hit the game-winning field goal.

"It was a game we let get away," Morgan said. "I thought it was a game we should have won coming into the game. But you have to play the game. We didn't execute and that's how we lost."

The Dolphins jumped out to a 14-3 lead in the first quarter, a lead that put the Panthers in a tough situation.

"We got it handed to us in the first quarter giving up 14 points right from the get-go," Morgan said. "Anytime you give up 14 points early in the NFL it puts you in a hole. We had our backs against us the rest of the game."

According to Morgan, execution was the biggest reason to explain the loss to the Dolphins.

"We should have played better, but we didn't execute," Morgan said. "We didn't play as well as we could have. We have to pick it up next week and it is a long season--we have 13 games left. We just have to go back and correct some of the mistakes we made."

A reason for the lack of execution was tough to explain.

"There are games you are going to have that you don't execute," Morgan said. "It is like any job. Some days you are going to execute better than others. For some reason we didn't execute good today."

Wide receiver Steve Smith led the Panthers with a career day. Smith set career-highs in all three major receiving statistic with 11 receptions, 170 yards, and three touchdowns.

"He always has good games," Morgan said. "He is just one of those guys that is real consistent."

Dan Morgan is in his fifth season in the NFL after being drafted in the first round by the Panthers in 2001. Last year he made his first Pro Bowl representing the NFC as the starting middle linebacker after posting 109 tackles, two interceptions, and two sacks in 2004.

"It was great going up against him," said Dolphins offensive lineman and former Hurricane Vernon Carey. "He plays with a lot of emotion and he is just a great player. I always admired him when I went up against him in practice."

Morgan went to Taravella High School in Coral Springs, Fla. and enjoys returning to the area when he gets the opportunity.

"It is always good coming back here," Morgan said. "It would have been especially nice coming back here and winning. That didn't happen, but it was nice coming back. I have family and friends here. Coming back here and losing kind of takes it all away."

While at the University of Miami he was the only three-time captain in team history. Following his senior year in 2000 he won the Butkus Award (nation's top linebacker), Bednarik Award (nation's top defensive player by the Maxwell Football Club), and the Nagurski Award (nation's best defensive player by the Football Writers Association).

"There are tons of memories at Miami--I loved playing for Miami," Morgan said.

Morgan and the Panthers (1-2) face Green Bay (0-3) at home on Monday, October 3.

Christopher Stock is a Senior Writer & Assistant Editor with CanesTime and can be contacted by emailing him at stock@canestime.com

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