What it means: Every game is crucial down the stretch, and the Dolphins lost a big one in the final minute to fall to 5-6. Panthers quarterback Cam Newton threw a game-winning, 1-yard touchdown pass to tight end Greg Olsen with 43 seconds remaining. The Dolphins led 16-6 at intermission and couldn’t hold on against Carolina at home. They are now grouped with several teams in a battle for the final wild-card spot in the AFC.
Stock Watch: Dolphins receiver Mike Wallace’s stock is certainly up after this game. Wallace had two huge catches of 53 and 57 yards in the first half that gave the Dolphins some early momentum. Wallace beat Captain Munnerlyn with ease on both plays and finished with five receptions for 127 yards and a touchdown. But Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill did miss on a deep connection late in the game that could have made a difference.
As far as stock down, Miami’s running game again pulled a disappearing act. The Dolphins struggled moving the ball on the ground all game and had just 52 rushing yards. Tannehill was the team’s leading rusher with 36 yards. The inconsistency of Miami’s running game has been an issue all year.
Thomas injured: Miami lost a key contributor in the second half in running back Daniel Thomas. He injured his left ankle in the third quarter and didn’t return. Thomas led the team in rushing in last week’s win over the San Diego Chargers. If he misses time, that may provide an opportunity to rookie running back Mike Gillislee to get backup reps next week.
What’s next: The Dolphins have their first of two huge games upcoming against the AFC East rival New York Jets (5-6). Miami will travel to East Rutherford, N.J., next Sunday for a road game with major playoff implications. Both teams are fighting for the final wild-card spot in the AFC.