Panthers top Dolphins in final preseason home game

The Carolina Panthers finished up their home preseason slate Friday with a 23-17 victory over the Miami Dolphins at Bank of America Stadium.

Less than a week after suffering a 26-13 loss to the Houston Texans in the preseason opener, Panthers coach Ron Rivera said he was pleased with what he saw from his team.

"As I looked at it from the sidelines and had an opportunity to see some things, there were a lot of positives, especially in the first half," he said. "I'm really pleased with what we did offensively and defensively."

Carolina (1-1 in the preseason) jumped ahead 17-0 behind a few key offensive performances.

Kicker Justin Medlock, who is battling with Olindo Mare for the team's starting job, opened scoring in the first quarter with a 49-yard field goal.

Less than five minutes later, running back Jonathan Stewart, who signed a five-year, $36.5 million extension with the club before last week's game, plunged into the endzone for a two-yard touchdown.

Second-year quarterback Cam Newton also played solidly, throwing for 119 yards on 8-of-11 attempts and a score.

His nine-yard touchdown pass to DeAngelo Williams with 1:12 left in the first quarter capped a six-play, 80-yard drive in 3:55.

"I think Cam played very well," Rivera said. "He had three very solid drives, and I was very excited about that. I think the big thing he did as far as 'running the show,' I thought he was very efficient. One of the things we want to be is consistent. We were consistent, as well."

Dolphins rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who started the game because Miami's David Garrard is out with a knee injury, completed 11-of-23 passes for 100 yards.

Trailing 20-7 at halftime, Miami tried to pull the comeback in the second half, getting three scores, including a 52-yard field goal by kicker Dan Carpenter and a six-yard touchdown pass from Pat Devlin to Rishard Matthews.

Wideout Jeff Fuller also recorded a safety on defense, but the Dolphins were unable to make up the 14-point halftime deficit.

Newton said with the Dolphins closing the gap, it made for a dramatic ending.

"It was pretty fun to watch," he said. "Just to see how the team would respond in a time of adversity, especially those guys coming down and moving the ball."

The Panthers travel for their next preseason game next Sunday against Tim Tebow and the New York Jets. The game will be televised nationally on NBC at 8 p.m.

The team's next home game is the second week of the season against the New Orleans Saints on Sept. 16 at 1 p.m.

As for Friday's game, Rivera said he is happy to see his team pick up a preseason victory after last week's disappointing loss.

"Everything we do is to win," he said. "Believe me, I was disappointed that we didn't win last week. I was very happy we won this week. I want to believe this is something you can build on. We did some really good things."