MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. Panthers coach Ron Rivera came into the interview room at Sun Life Stadium in a bad mood Sunday, considering his team had just beaten the Dolphins 20-16.
But the Dolphins’ next-to-last play was still fresh in Rivera’s mind, and he was not happy wide receiver Mike Wallace had gotten behind free safety Mike Mitchell on a deep route in the final seconds.
“Your job is to keep it in front of you and you have to. And we’re going to address that and make sure that it gets corrected,” Rivera said. “We’re going to play the guy that will do the things we ask him to do and do them the right way.”
Imagine Rivera’s reaction had Wallace actually made the catch.
Mitchell, who said he played the second half with a lower-body injury that will require an MRI on Monday, said the Panthers were in a cover-2 when Wallace turned an out route into a post.
“When somebody runs a post 30 yards downfield and they’ve got the time to throw it, it’s going to be a 1-on-1,” Mitchell said. “I don’t mind it at all. My coaches trust me to not let people make catches back there. That’s what happened.”
Wallace had five catches for 127 yards, but couldn’t come down with Ryan Tannehill’s last pass, which fell to the turf at the Panthers’ 1.
“He’s a fast guy but there’s no way I was going to let him catch the ball,” Mitchell said. “I’m glad we got the win. Obviously, in a perfect world I’m not playing hurt, for one, and then two, I’d like to be on top of that route making an interception or a knockdown.”
Mitchell wasn’t the only defensive back burned by Wallace, who signed a five-year, $60million deal with Miami during the offseason.
Wallace beat cornerback Captain Munnerlyn deep twice in the first half – for a 53-yard touchdown and a 57-yard gain that set up a field goal.
Munnerlyn said with Tannehill rolling out on a bootleg, he expected Wallace to run comeback routes both plays.
“It’s my fault. Everybody in the league does comebacks with a boot. I sat on his route and thought a comeback was coming, and he kept going,” Munnerlyn said. “From film study, I should’ve known my personnel. I know if I sit on his route, he’s going to keep going.
“As a defensive back, you’ve got to have a short memory. That’s what I have. So I just went out and tried to pick my game up.”
The Panthers used veteran corner Drayton Florence against Wallace most of the second half. Meanwhile, Munnerlyn finished with a team-high nine tackles.
“I appreciate my teammates having my back because if we would’ve lost this game I wouldn’t have felt great at all,” Munnerlyn said. “I still don’t feel great, but it’s always good to get a win.”
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