Dolphins beat Carolina

Running back Lex Hilliard might not have a realistic of making the Dolphins roster, but he's doing his best to convince the coaches he should stick. He stole the show in the second half Saturday night to help the Dolphins pull away for a 27-17 victory over the Carolina Panthers.

The victory was the Dolphins' fifth consecutive preseason triumph over the last two years.

The Dolphins played without cornerbacks Sean Smith and Jason Allen, who were both sick. Also missing the game was linebacker Matt Roth, who has yet to practice this summer because of a controversial and much-discussed groin issue.

Hilliard gave the Dolphins the lead for good in the third quarter when he scored on a 39-yard touchdown run on his first carry of the game.

Hilliard's run gave the Dolphins a 20-14 lead and they later iced the victory on a 2-yard touchdown pass from Chad Henne to backup fullback Joe Kowalewski.

That touchdown came after a punt went off a Carolina player and was recovered by Dolphins rookie safety Chris Clemons at the Panthers 14-yard line.

Hilliard's 7-yard run on the next play helped the Dolphins move inside the 10-yard line.

Unlike the preseason opener against Jacksonville, the Dolphins used the Wildcat in this game.

The Dolphins ran five plays out of the formation in the first half, gaining 53 yards on those plays.

The biggest play was a 35-yard completion from Chad Pennington to Patrick Cobbs on the same play the Dolphins used to score a touchdown at Houston last season.

This one also should have resulted in a touchdown, but Pennington's pass to Cobbs was underthrown and Cobbs also had to wait for it, which allowed Panthers cornerback Chris Gamble to come back and tackle Cobbs at the Carolina 10-yard line.

The Dolphins failed to score a touchdown on the drive, settling for a 21-yard field goal by Connor Barth.

The next-best play out of the Wildcat was an 11-yard run by Ricky Williams, who took the handoff from Ronnie Brown after coming into motion.

The Dolphins used their best offense to march 60 yards on six plays on their first drive to take a 7-0 lead.

Brown was the star of the drive with runs of 10 and 12 yards and then a 28-yard reception from Pennington down the right sideline for the touchdown.

Carolina answered that drive with a 70-yard touchdown march that featured three completions of more than 10 yards by Jake Delhomme and ended with DeAngelo Williams' 26-yard scoring run.

The Dolphins had a couple of bad breakdowns on special teams, one a 58-yard punt return allowed to Carolina rookie Captain Munnerlyn and the other a muff by Dolphins punt returner Chris Williams.

The long Carolina return didn't produce any points after the Panthers threw an incomplete pass out of field goal formation on fourth down.

But Williams' fumble proved costly after it gave Carolina the ball at the Miami 29-yard line.

Six plays after the fumble, Decori Birmingham scored on a 2-yard run to give Carolina a 14-10 lead heading into halftime.

The Dolphins cut the lead to one on a 41-yard field goal by Dan Carpenter before Hilliard came up with his big play.


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