Dolphins Lose Close One In Carolina

Posted Aug 17, 2012

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Nothing compares to that first start for an NFL quarterback, regardless of if it comes in a preseason game, and rookie Ryan Tannehill experienced his tonight against the Carolina Panthers.

Tannehill completed 11-of-23 passes for 100 yards and for the second straight week engineered the Dolphins’ first touchdown drive. He was the first rookie quarterback to start a preseason game since John Beck in 2007 at the New Orleans Saints.

Carolina managed to pull out a 23-17 victory and Miami fell to 0-2 in the preseason.

Head Coach Joe Philbin had been saying for two weeks that he wanted to see his first-round draft pick face the opponent’s first-team defense to get a gage on how he would respond to the pressure. Tannehill took his lumps, getting sacked three times for a total loss of 16 yards, and had four of his passes tipped either at the line or in the flat.

“There was a little bit of everything,” Philbin said of what contributed to the first-half woes. “A couple of times there were definitely protection issues, once I thought that he could have stepped up in the pocket and avoided the rush a little better. So probably a combination of both.”

It was on Tannehill’s third drive after going three-and-out the first two times when he found his rhythm, driving the offense 71 yards on 15 plays in six minutes and 27 seconds. He converted three third downs, including a 20-yard pass over the middle to his former Texas A&M teammate, Jeff Fuller. Second-year running back Daniel Thomas capped off the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run to cut into Carolina’s 17-0 lead at the time.

Carolina’s defense brought more heat the remainder of the first half and forced Tannehill to either scramble and throw the ball away or take a sack. Philbin opted to let Tannehill take the second half and brought in Matt Moore, who on his second drive put Miami back on the scoreboard.

Moore completed some critical third-down passes to get the Dolphins into Panthers territory, and then watched kicker Dan Carpenter atone for his two misses last week against Tampa Bay with a 52-yard field goal to cut the deficit in half at 20-10. He finished 5-of-15 for 57 yards.

Unfortunately, Miami’s defense struggled for the second week in a row and allowed Panthers quarterback Cam Newton to get comfortable during his limited time on the field. Newton completed 8-of-11 passes for 119 yards and a touchdown before being relieved by Derek Anderson early in the second quarter.

“We have got to step up and make plays,” Philbin said. “Our first defense hasn’t really gotten off the field yet in preseason.”

Rookie Derrick Shelby stood out when he got in the game by sacking Panthers quarterback Jimmy Clausen and forcing a fumble. Safety Chris Clemons forced a fumble and recovered it in the first half when he delivered a blow to Panthers running back Mike Tolbert.

Third-string quarterback Pat Devlin came into the game in the fourth quarter and got the offense into the end zone. He capped off a 12-play, 86-yard scoring drive with a 6-yard touchdown pass to rookie Rishard Matthews with 3:17 left in the game to make the final score close.

Devlin got the ball back near midfield with 1:52 left in the game and almost pulled out the win, moving the ball to the Carolina 20 by completing a 12-yard pass to Matthews on 4th-and-10. But with four seconds left, Devlin’s pass for Fuller was intercepted in the end zone by R.J. Stanford.

The team is off tomorrow and returns to the practice field on Sunday afternoon to start preparations for that pivotal third preseason game.

Philbin Speaks: “We’re going to have to watch the film and get a better feel. Until the last play about the best thing we did on offense was we hadn’t turned the ball over, but that ended on the last play of the game. We had a lot of penalties and it just wasn’t a clean operation. That’s a poor reflection on me and we’ve got to do a better job.” – on the play of the offense tonight

“It hasn’t necessarily been a point of emphasis to be really frank. We haven’t really run the ball so it’s hard to get a gage. I don’t want to overreact and say, ‘Boy, our run game stinks,’ but obviously it’s safe to say when the regular season comes around we’re going to need to do it more.” – on the lack of a running game

“I’m certainly not pleased and I highly doubt Kevin (Coyle) is pleased and the rest of the staff. Hopefully, the players are the ones that are the most disappointed because I think we can play better defense. I’m confident we can but we have to show it. We haven’t done it yet.” – on the play of his entire defense

“I think maybe you should ask him next Friday at about 10:30 or 11 p.m. I thought he did some good things. I know he got credited with the one sack but I thought there was a chance Ryan maybe thought the middle was a little firm on that pass play and I thought maybe he could have stepped up and helped a little bit. It wasn’t awful and it wasn’t like he got beat right off the bat, but he’s got to do better.” – on the play of rookie right tackle Jonathan Martin

From The Locker Room: “We couldn’t get rolling in those first two series. I had some chances to make plays, had a ball batted and it’s tough to get going when you can’t get that first first down. So we could never find a rhythm and I think that’s one thing we’re going to focus on this week is getting into a rhythm early.” – quarterback Matt Moore his performance and the performance of the offense

“I’ve been doing that my whole career, so it was kind of natural. I just missed some opportunities. It was a bit frustrating to be honest but I think guys understand we have to get better fast and make those plays when they’re there.” – veteran quarterback Matt Moore on coming in with the backups to start the second half

“Tannehill, he’s a grown-up quarterback already in my eyes. He’s real poised, can make the tough throws and he also can stay in the pocket and take the hit if need be and deliver the ball. It’s just a growth process with all of us because we’ve got a lot of young receivers and a lot of young players at other positions that are trying to come along and develop. It starts with the quarterback and the more he grows the better we get and the more we grow the better he gets.” – wide receiver Marlon Moore on how Tannehill played and is progressing

“To be the best you have to go against the best and to measure where you’re at as a defensive back you have to go against the elite wide receivers. Tonight I had a chance to go against Steve Smith a couple of times and I felt pretty good. He gave me some shifty moves out there and a lot of work coming out of the break so it was definitely good for me to get those reps. If you want to be elite you have to be able to cover those guys.” – cornerback Sean Smith on his battles with Panthers veteran wide receiver Steve Smith

“You’ve got to be able to stand in there. There was one time where I should have stepped up a little more and helped out my right tackle a little bit. But you’re going to face good pass rushers in this league so you’ve got to be able to stand in the pocket and make a tough throw with a guy in your face.” – Tannehill on dealing with Carolina’s fierce pass rush

Next: The Dolphins host the Atlanta Falcons in the always pivotal third preseason game next Friday at Sun Life Stadium at 8 p.m.

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