Dolphins 27, Panthers 24
-- With the game on the line Sunday, the Miami Dolphins finally found a way to stop Carolina's Steve Smith, forcing Jake Delhomme to throw to somebody else: a defensive back.
Safety Lance Schulters intercepted Delhomme with two minutes left to set up Olindo Mare's game-winning field goal, and Miami won, 27-24.
Rookie Ronnie Brown rushed for 132 yards for Miami, while Carolina lost despite Smith's 11 catches for 170 yards and three scores, including a 53-yard touchdown midway through the fourth quarter to tie the game at 24.
The Panthers were driving for a potential winning score on their next possession when Schulters stepped in front of a pass intended for Keary Colbert and returned the interception 37 yards to the 25-yard line. Five plays later, Mare kicked a 32-yard field goal with four seconds left.
"It doesn't get any lower than this," Delhomme said. "There was no doubt we were going to kick the field goal and win the game. You don't want to have to look your other players in the eyes, because you let them down."
Miami improved to 2-1 under new coach Nick Saban. Heading into a bye week, the Dolphins are halfway to last year's win total.
"We're not the worst team in the league like some people make us out to be," Schulters said. "We believe in ourselves and our abilities, and we like to stick it to people who don't believe in us."
The Panthers, who lost seven of their first eight games last season, are off to another slow start at 1-2.
"Back to the drawing board," Coach John Fox said. "We're very disappointed."
Brown scored his first NFL touchdown on a one-yard run, and his 58-yard dash set up a field goal.