MIAMI — Cam Newton threw a Hail Mary pass that fell incomplete on the final play of the first half Friday night, and that's the closest he came to reaching the end zone.
The top pick of the NFL draft was shut out in his first exhibition-game start, and Newton's Carolina Panthers lost to the Miami Dolphins 20-10.
Newton played the entire first half, when the Panthers managed only three first downs, had the ball for less than eight minutes and fell behind 17-0. Newton went 7 for 14 for 66 yards, and he ran four times for 18 yards.
Carolina crossed midfield for the first time when Newton ran for 7 yards on the next-to-last play of the half.
Reggie Bush, another former Heisman Trophy winner, played for the first time since joining the Dolphins and totaled 81 yards from scrimmage in three series. He ran eight times for 48 yards, including a 17-yard burst up the middle, and caught two passes for 33 yards.
Miami's Chad Henne played the entire first half and led the Dolphins to 17 points in five possessions, including 10 points in two series against Panthers reserves. Henne went 15 for 24 for 194 yards, and he had a 17-yard scramble.
The Dolphins went 1-7 at home last season, and Henne was booed during a recent scrimmage on the same field. Spectators had little to complain about in the opening half, however, as they watched the Dolphins outgain the Panthers 301-90.
Charlotte did sit out six starters, including four on offense. But a sputtering offense was nothing new for the Panthers, who ranked last in the NFL in points and yards in 2010, when a 2-14 record gave them the chance to take Newton in the draft.
The crowd was likely the smallest he has played before since his days at Blinn College. Announced attendance was 54,157, but the actual turnout was about 30,000.
Charlotte quarterback Jimmy Clausen, who started last week, entered the game to begin the second half and went 9 for 15 for 69 yards. The Panthers scored their touchdown in the fourth quarter after Miami backup quarterback Matt Moore lost a fumble.
New Panthers coach Ron Rivera is expected to announce in the coming week whether Newton or Clausen will start in the opener Sept. 11 against Arizona.
Newton's first pass went to Greg Olsen for 12 yards, but the Panthers were then forced to punt, and they totaled only 10 plays on their next three possessions.
Miami rookie Daniel Thomas carried 12 times for 52 yards. Brandon Marshall played three series and caught five passes for 46 yards.1 comment on this story
The second possession by the Dolphins' first-teamers resulted in a 12-play, 80-yard touchdown drive late in the first quarter. The final yard proved the toughest — Miami ran up the middle three times for no gain before Lex Hilliard scored on a fourth-down leap.
In the second quarter, Henne led another 12-play scoring drive against Panthers reserves. It ended with a 39-yard field goal by Dan Carpenter.
The Dolphins got the ball back with 2:03 left in the half, and Henne moved them 63 yards for a score in four plays, the last a 4-yard run by Thomas.