Dolphins not ready for prime time, Panthers roll to easy win

AP

The good news is, the Dolphins have one prime time appearance left this season. The bad news is, the Dolphins have one prime time appearance left this season.

The Panthers destroyed the Dolphins 45-21, putting a lid on three straight weeks of the Dolphins in prime time.

After losing 40-0 to the Ravens on a Thursday, they lost a respectable 27-24 decision to the Raiders on Sunday Night Football, before this thrashing. And that cumulative score of 112-45 is something they’ll ponder until they see the Patriots on Monday, Dec. 11.

They offered very little resistance to the Panthers all night, as they were outgained 548-313 and outrushed 294-100. In fact, when Kenyan Drake popped a 66-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, it moved their team rushing total to 90 yards at that point.

Much of that had to do with the Panthers (7-3), who may have found some answers on offense after looking all season. They’ve finally decided to just let Cam Newton be Cam Newton, and thus liberated, he responded with 254 yards passing and four touchdowns and another 95 yards rushing.

But that wasn’t all that worked. Running back Jonathan Stewart responded from a rough stretch of games with a season-high 110 yards (his previous high this year was 68), and Devin Funchess looked like a lead-receiver, with five catches for 92 yards and two touchdowns, the kind of night he didn’t have with Kelvin Benjamin hanging around (before the former first-rounder was traded to Buffalo).

The Panthers needed to find that offensive rhythm to keep pace with the Saints (7-2) in the NFC South, and set up an interesting finish to the season after some early stumbles. They just have to hope they don’t lose that rhythm over their bye week, but they’re also hoping to get Pro Bowl tight end Greg Olsen back later this month.

So for the moment, all the news is good for the Panthers. And unless they get flexed, all the rest of their games will be on Sundays at 1 p.m.