Tannehill dazzles, but Dolphins fall to Panthers

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Ryan Tannehill likes the direction of the Miami Dolphins.

Tannehill completed 12 of 15 passes for 102 yards and a touchdown, Damien Williams scored twice for the Dolphins in a 31-30 loss to the Carolina Panthers on Saturday night.

Williams scored on a 1-yard touchdown run and caught an 11-yard TD pass on a slant route from Tannehill as the Dolphins built an early 14-0 lead.

Tannehill beat the Panthers with short passes underneath the coverage to his backs. Lamar Miller set up Miami's first score by catching a pass in the flat, faking out Panthers cornerback Josh Norman and racing 36 yards to the Carolina 5.

"When you score on two out of three drives, you feel like you're moving the ball well," said Tannehill, who has completed 82 percent of his passes through two games.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera said he was disappointed with his team's nine penalties, three of which helped prolong Miami drives.

"We had three big negative plays that were wiped out because we were offside and you can't do that and expect to be a good team," Rivera said.

Williams nearly had a third touchdown, but Dolphins coach Joe Philbin errantly challenged an official's call that the second-year running back was stopped before the goal line after diving for the pylon. When officials reviewed the play, they determined Williams actually fumbled the ball into the end zone.

Instead of the Dolphins taking a 20-0 lead - or having a second-and-goal at the Carolina 1 had Philbin not challenged - the Panthers got the ball at the 20 after the touchback.

Philbin said it was a "bad decision."

"The only person to blame is me," Philbin said. "I had the red flag, and I threw it. It was a bad decision."

Carolina's Cam Newton struggled in his first game without wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, finishing 4 of 10 for 42 yards with an interception. Benjamin tore his ACL in practice on Wednesday.

Newton did move the offense to the Miami 2 on his final possession, but the Dolphins stopped them on four straight plays, including a scramble on fourth down by Newton in which he dove for the pylon but came up short.

"When you get inside the 10 you have to find a way to get it in the end zone," Newton said.

Copyright 2015 by The Associated Press

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