Fans hoping for a competitive Monday Night Football game in Week 10 between the Miami Dolphins and Carolina Panthers didn’t get their wish.
It was a one-sided blowout that really took off the wrong way for the road team right before the end of the first half. Things got worse in the second half, and the Panthers walked into their home locker room with a huge 45-21 win.
— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) November 14, 2017
These were the biggest winners and losers from the lopsided game.
Winner: What a night for Panthers running backs and specialists
Veteran Jonathan Stewart romped for 110 yards on 17 carries. It was the best game of his 2017 season. By quite a bit.
Christian McCaffrey contributed as well. He caught three passes for 27 yards and a touchdown. He chipped in 23 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
Before getting injured, slot specialist and converted running back Curtis Samuel caught five passes for 45 yards. We’ll forgive him his drop in the end zone because the ball went right over the outstretched hands of a defender and then he got blasted after the fact.
Veteran backup Cameron Artis-Payne even got in on the action, rushing in a score from 12 yards out in the third quarter. He mopped up in garbage time, too, finishing with 68 rushing yards.
All in all, it was a huge night for the above-mentioned skill players, who finished with 273 total yards of offense in the blowout win for the home team.
Loser: Jay Cutler doing Jay Cutler things
Right before halftime, Miami down by just three points, Cutler did a very Jay Cutler thing. Staring down Luke Kuechly (and tight end Julius Thomas) from the moment he received the snap, Cutler tried to throw the ball right through the All-Pro linebacker.
It went about as well as you’d expect.
— NFL (@NFL) November 14, 2017
At this point in the game, Cutler had already thrown a number of terrifyingly awful passes — skipping balls to receivers, overthrowing others. It was just bad. Because of this unconscionable lapse in judgement, Carolina took a 17-7 lead into halftime when Cam Newton hit tight end Ed Dickson a few plays later to go up by double-digits.
On one single play, the entire game flipped. Carolina went on to absolutely wipe the floor with the Dolphins from the moment Cutler let that ball leave his hand.
Winner: Kawann Short was a monster in the middle
This was evident very early in the game. Short was getting off the block quicker than anyone on either side of the ball. At one point, he blew up a Dolphins play before it even had a chance to develop, arriving at the ball carrier at the same time as Cutler handed it off.
By halftime Short already had five tackles, and Miami’s rushing attack was stagnate — 27 yards on 10 carries. We love to talk about how darn good Carolina’s linebackers are. And they are amazing. But much of what they’re able to accomplish happens because Short and the other defensive linemen do such an amazing job up front.
Short would end up with seven total tackles to lead the Carolina defense.
Loser: Miami’s defense got steamrolled
There's no D.
— Dave Berggren (@daveberggren) November 14, 2017
This goes beyond the scoreboard. Beyond the 548 total yards (franchise record) and 30 first downs the Panthers piled up with ease.
Miami’s defense appeared to play without much heart. It certainly didn’t have any discipline. Here’s a prime example of a play that was just way too easy for the Panthers. Cam Newton kept the ball on a read-option and ran 69 yards up the gut. If he hadn’t run out of steam at the end it would have been a 88-yard touchdown instead of a 69-yard run.
Who knew you could run basic HS plays with great success? @Panthers carving up the MIA D with simple zone read concepts that are seen every Friday night at the local high school game… 🤔 https://t.co/wlUgcmnU6p
— Bucky Brooks (@BuckyBrooks) November 14, 2017
Wow.@CameronNewton using his WHEELS.
— NFL (@NFL) November 14, 2017
Consistently, Carolina’s receivers got wide open. They got wide open in the middle of the field. They got wide open on the sideline. They got wide open short. They got wide open deep. If not for some drops by the Panthers, this game would have been even more lopsided on the scoreboard.
Winner: Kenyan Drake scored Miami’s first rushing touchdown of the entire season
It’s really hard to believe the Dolphins hadn’t scored a single touchdown on the ground through eight games. Yet before Kenyan Drake romped 66 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter on Monday night, that was reality for Adam Gase and Co.
It really was a beautiful run, however, that was almost worth the wait.
— NFL (@NFL) November 14, 2017
Drake finished with 92 total yards on nine touches. This touchdown was a rare bright spot for the Fins on a night where not much else went their way.
Loser: Damien Williams isn’t the answer at running back for Miami
When the Dolphins traded Jay Ajayi to the Philadelphia Eagles, we knew someone would have to step up and become the lead running back. So far, it appears Williams isn’t that guy. He struggled on the ground last week, going for 14 yards on seven carries.
That didn’t change on Monday night, either. Williams rushed for just 19 yards on nine carries. Even worse than last week, he didn’t make a big impact as a receiver, with just two catches for 20 yards.
Now, it’s true that Drake did some good things, as we highlighted previously. He also rushed for 69 yards on nine carries last weekend against Oakland. But Drake isn’t built like a featured back and won’t likely hold up to the type of punishment that comes with carrying the load.
So at this point, it sure looks like Miami doesn’t have that guy on its roster right now. And the offense is suffering because of it.
Winner: Devin Funchess has his best game all year
The Carolina offense is still a work in progress right now after Kelvin Benjamin was traded to the Buffalo Bills a couple weeks back. We wondered if the Panthers had a guy who could step up and be the No. 1 receiver. While we’re not convinced this is going to be a long-term development, what Funchess did Monday night went a ways towards answering the question.
The former Michigan tight end/receiver hybrid had the best game of his season. He hauled in five passes for 92 yards and two touchdowns. His emergence helped Cam Newton have a big game through the air, passing for 254 yards and four touchdowns.
It’s most definitely the kind of development the Panthers needed to see in the passing game. If Funchess can have this type of impact the rest of the season, then Carolina will be tough to stop.