A year ago, the Miami Dolphins won their first three games, then dropped their next three contests in a season that was a rollercoaster ride from start to finish. Much of that was due to a lack of stability at quarterbacks thanks to injuries to Tua Tagovailoa and then-backup Teddy Bridgewater.
There have been no such worries so far in 2023. The Dolphins’ 4-1 start is the team’s best since 2003. For the second straight Sunday, they host a team from the other conference. The Carolina Panthers make their second appearance in South Florida in three seasons.
All-Time Series Record
The teams first met in 1998, which was the Panthers’ fourth season in the league. The Dolphins own a 5-2 lifetime advantage in the series, having won the first four meetings and the most recent in 2021. That first encounter in ‘98 at Charlotte saw then-Dolphins’ quarterback Dan Marino throw for only 140 yards and one interception. Running back Karim Abdul-Jabbar ran for 127 yards and one touchdown in a 13-9 win.
The Last Time
Dolphins 33, Panthers 10 (2021): After a 1-7 start, the team had reeled off three straight wins and hosted the Panthers in Week 12. Miami’s defense limited Carolina to just 198 total yards and picked off Panthers’ quarterbacks Cam Newton (2) and P.J. Walker (1) three times. Tua Tagovailoa was on target, hitting on 27-of-31 passes for 230 yards and one score to Jaylen Waddle, who hauled in nine passes for 137 yards.
Most Memorable Meeting
It was Nick Saban’s first season as the Dolphins’ head coach. The Dolphins took on a Panthers’ team that would eventually reach the NFC title game. A 32-yard field goal by Olindo Mare with four seconds remaining gave Saban’s club a 27-24 win. Rookie Ronnie Brown ran for 132 yards and one score. Future Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker Zach Thomas totaled 17 tackles, one sack, and a forced fumble.
Key to the Game
The Dolphins have to take better care of the football and avoid giving the undermanned Panthers an opportunity for an upset. The AFC East leaders have turned over the football five times in their last two games, three times last Sunday. Tua Tagovailoa threw two interceptions in last week’s win over the Giants, but one was a pick-six that wound up being New York’s lone touchdown of the afternoon.
Dolphins Player to Watch
Carolina’s run defense ranks 26th in the league after five weeks of action this season. Rookie De’Von Achane leads the team in rushing yards (460) but veteran Raheem Mostert has a club-high 58 carries, good for 314 yards and seven touchdowns. Mike McDaniel’s club is averaging 188.5 yards per game on the ground, amassing at least 140 yards in four consecutive games (200-plus yards twice in 2023).