PASSING OFFENSE: C-plus -- Up until two minutes remained in the game, Jake Delhomme had weathered a torrid Dolphins pass rush (4 sacks, 1 fumble) and had thrown for 285 yards and three touchdowns, all of them to Steve Smith. But Delhomme then made the blunder of the day; throwing an interception to safety Lance Schulters, who returned the ball 37 yards to set up Olindo Mare's game-winning field goal. After the game, Delhomme fell on his sword and took blame for the loss. Smith was incredible in defeat, equaling a team-high with 11 receptions for 170 yards and three touchdowns. The Panthers may need to consider sitting down Keary Colbert (no receptions) and starting Rod Gardner this week. Colbert has two catches for 11 yards this season.
RUSHING OFFENSE: D -- Carolina's offensive line was beat at the line of
scrimmage by a physical Miami defense. The Dolphins stuffed Carolina's
running game, holding Stephen Davis to just 36 yards on 16 carries, a
2.3-yard average, while battering the team's star running back with a
barrage of hits. Davis' longest game of the day was 5 yards. Look for Davis
to be sore this week and he will be glad the team has an extra day to
prepare for the Green Bay Packers. DeShaun Foster was more effective than
Davis on Sunday, carrying eight times for 27 yards and catching three passes
PASS DEFENSE: C-minus -- The Panthers were hurting without cornerback Ken Lucas and outside linebacker Will Witherspoon, and it showed. The Dolphins
felt like they had a mismatch with Chris Chambers on cornerback Chris Gamble, and they were right. They exploited it early and often. Chambers had
six catches for 93 yards and a touchdown. The Dolphins went after Gamble on
five plays on their first drive and netted 39 total yards and a pass
interference penalty good for another 17. The Panthers didn't sack Gus Frerotte all afternoon. The biggest surprise is that it's now three games
into the season and defensive end Julius Peppers still doesn't have a sack.
Wasn't he supposed to be a Defensive Player of the Year candidate?
RUSH DEFENSE: D-minus -- The Panthers had done a decent job of shutting
down Ronnie Brown for most of the game before the rookie busted free for a
58-yard gain in the fourth quarter when the Dolphins were backed up deep in
their own end of the field. Brown finished with 132 yards on 23 carries, a
5.7-yard average. It was his first 100-yard game after being held to 92 in
his previous two games this year.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C-minus -- The Panthers had a rough day on special teams,
as Steve Smith muffed a punt return at his own 16-yard line leading to a
Miami touchdown and putting the Panthers in an 11-point hole in the first
quarter. And after Carolina cut the lead to 14-10, Jason Baker sent a
kickoff out of bounds, giving the Dolphins the ball at the 40, and leading
to another Miami touchdown. However, Baker pinned the Dolphins inside the
10-yard line twice on Sunday. Kicker John Kasay hammered home his third
straight 50-yard field goal of the season; connecting from 52 yards in the
COACHING: F -- The Panthers lost to a team they shouldn't have and much
of the blame needs to go on the coaching staff. That's the bottom line. This
is the second time in three games the Panthers have allowed a team to march
down the field and score on the game's opening drive.
Week 3 Report Card
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