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Panthers pull off last-minute win to remain in thick of NFC South race

Frank Schwab
Shutdown Corner

Carolina quarterback Cam Newton is a heck of a football player. Turns out, he's not a bad actor, either.

Newton led another thrilling game-winning drive in a 20-16 win over Miami, hitting Greg Olsen for a 1-yard touchdown with 43 seconds left. One of the biggest plays of that drive was Newton flopping out of bounds.

On a run to his right to pick up a first down, Newton was bumped into by defensive back Reshad Jones after he ran out of bounds. And really, "bumped into" might be a bit strong. Jones barely touched him. Newton reacted like he was shot, throwing his arms up and falling to the ground. Jones got a 15-yard penalty for a late hit. That moved the Panthers to the Dolphins' 29-yard line. A few plays later, Olsen scored the game-winning touchdown.

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(USA Today Sports Images)

The Panthers are now 8-3, still one game behind New Orleans in the NFC South, even though it took everything they had to beat the Dolphins.

Carolina was coming off huge wins against San Francisco and New England, the biggest victories for the franchise in years. A letdown at Miami wasn't too surprising.

And the sign of a good team is winning on the road when it doesn't have its best game, which the Panthers found a way to do on Sunday.

Carolina had to dodge a bullet at the end. On the second-to-last play of the game Mike Wallace somehow found himself in man-to-man coverage deep down the middle. Ryan Tannehill threw it deep to him, and the ball glanced off Wallace's hands at the goal line. Tannehill was sacked a play later.

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In the first 16 games of Carolina coach Rob Rivera's career that were decided by less than a touchdown, the Panthers were 2-14. That's the sign of some really bad luck. The Panthers are getting their share of good fortune, good play and good results this year.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdowncorner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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