The Dallas Cowboys are better than the Carolina Panthers. The scoreboard accurately reflects that. The Panthers lost, 33-10.
As has been the case for much of the season, the defense started strong and forced a 3-and-out to start the game. The Panthers manufactured a ten play drive to cross midfield, but Chandler Zavala was blown past by Micah Parsons on a 3rd and 6 to force a punt. The Cowboys strung together a good drive on their second possession and scored a touchdown on a pass from Dak Prescott to Luke Schoonmaker. The same thing happened on the next Panthers drive. A couple of big Miles Sanders runs moved the ball for the Panthers, but Micah Parsons blew through the line to force another punt.
The Panthers helped the Cowboys get into scoring range with some costly penalties. Donte Jackson was called for a 28 yard pass interference that maybe saved a touchdown after he was beat by CeeDee Lamb. The Panthers still had a chance to get off the field after Brian Burn blew up a trick play, but Xavier Woods simultaneously committed both a horse collar and facemask while tackling a Cowboys ball carrier ten yards short of the line to gain. Still, the defense bowed up and held the Cowboys to a field goal.
The teams traded punts before the Panthers put together their best drive of the first half. Both Chuba Hubbard and Miles Sanders broke off chunk runs and Bryce Young hit Stephon Sullivan with a beautiful back shoulder down the left sideline. The Cowboys blew up an outside run to put the Panthers behind the sticks, and the drive was again ended with the Cowboys front overwhelming the Panthers offensive line and sacking Young. At least this time they were close enough to get some points on an Eddy Pineiro field goal.
Pineiro kicked the ensuing kickoff out of bounds to put the Cowboys on the 40 to start the next drive. The Panthers had a chance to get off the field on another third down on the that drive, but Amare Barno put his shoulder into Dak Prescott’s head as he was sliding to draw penalty flags. Derrick Brown blew up a run then the Cowboys came up short on another long third down, but this time DeShawn Williams shoved a Cowboy in the back after the play to ensure that the Cowboys got another first down. The Cowboys finally got the touchdown the Panthers had been begging them to score on 3rd and goal after Donte Jackson failed to reel in a possible interception on second down.
To summarize, after making it a one score game, the Panthers kicked the kickoff out of bounds and then committed a personal foul each time the Cowboys did not convert a third down until the Cowboys scored a touchdown.
The Panthers came out of the half needing an offensive spark, so of course they committed a holding penalty on their first offensive play and derailed the drive. After an exchange of punts, the Panthers put together another long drive that was extended by three fourth down conversions. Two were from Young to Adam Thielen and the third was picked up by a Miles Sanders run. The drive was capped off by a Young pass to Tommy Tremble in the flat for a touchdown.
The third quarter ended with the Cowboys driving.
On the third play of the fourth quarter, Prescott tossed the ball to Tony Pollard, who got a runway up the middle of the field that allowed him to run through arm tackles on his way to the endzone. That was followed by Bryce Young throwing a pick-6 on the first play of the Panthers ensuing drive.
The now 20 deficit for the Panthers allowed the Cowboys to tee off on the Panthers quarterback. Young was sacked twice in a row on a first and second down and then fumbled on third down trying to escape from another barrage of Cowboys pass rushers.
The game went about as well as anyone could have expected. The Panthers hung around for a while but it was always destined to fall apart. Bryce Young was under siege almost every time he dropped back to pass. He completed just 7-of-15 passes for 47 yards to non-Adam Thielen receivers, and you can almost feel the lack of confidence he has throwing to his other receivers. The ball doesn’t come out with the same zip or conviction.
The defense played well for most of the game. The Cowboys have one of the most potent offenses in the league and the Panthers weren’t going to be able to keep them at bay all game. Troy Hill had a very good game aside from giving up a touchdown to Lamb. Derrick Brown had some highlight reel run stuffs.
Fortunately this is the hardest game left on the Panthers schedule. They’ll start a stretch of three straight road games against the Tennessee Titans in a battle of rookie quarterbacks.