Dallas Cowboys got here into this showdown on a two-game profitable streak, however in going through the undefeated Carolina Panthers, Dak Prescott and firm must cope with the league’s No. 1 protection in each yards and factors allowed.
A lot for that. In entrance of a sellout residence crowd, the Cowboys muscled their option to a formidable 36-28 victory, firmly giving discover that this staff is certainly a contender.
Final week, the Cowboys dominated the Eagles within the first half, leaping out to a 20-7 lead that Philadelphia might by no means overcome. This week, nevertheless, the Panthers went toe-to-toe with Dallas within the first half, solely to have the Cowboys explode for 23 unanswered factors within the second half to drag away.
Prescott would throw three landing passes alone within the third quarter, changing into simply the primary Cowboys quarterback to toss three or extra scores in a single quarter since Tony Romo did so towards St. Louis on Sept. 30, 2007. Prescott completed the sport with solely 188 passing yards, finishing 14 of simply 22 makes an attempt, however he threw 4 touchdowns general on the day for a passer ranking of 130.3.
As an alternative, the offensive engine was pushed by the bottom sport. Behind their highway graders up entrance, the Cowboys rushed for 245 yards, Ezekiel Elliott main the way in which with 143 yards, the seventh-highest whole of his profession. Tony Pollard added one other 67 with Prescott chipping in 35.
However whereas the Cowboys offense might need garnered the highlight with its efficiency, don’t overlook the hassle of the Dallas protection. Randy Gregory spearheaded the hassle with two sacks and 4 quarterback hits with Trevon Diggs including two extra interceptions to his whole. Rookies Chauncey Golston and Osa Odighizuwa mixed for a sack with fellow freshman Micah Parsons posting a sack of his personal.
It took a sequence to get going, however on the Cowboys’ second possession of the sport, the large boys up entrance determined it was time to get to work. Dallas ran the ball eight occasions within the 9 play drive, which included a 15-yard scramble by Prescott. Elliott confirmed each energy and velocity, churning out 35 yards on 4 carries, the final a 1-yard push into the top zone for the primary factors of the sport.
Carolina’s No. 1 ranked protection got here into the day permitting simply 45 yards per sport. Seven and a half minutes into this one and Dallas already had 66 yards on the bottom.
The Panthers shortly answered, although, as they marched down the sector simply as simply on their subsequent possession. Sam Darnold related with wideout D.J. Moore 3 times for a complete of 47 yards earlier than the quarterback reached the top zone himself, chopping inside on an possibility for the 1-yard landing to tie issues up.
Tight finish Blake Jarwin obtained into the top zone for the primary time this season with an 18-yard landing catch, capping off a drive that started late within the first quarter. Admittedly, the Cowboys obtained fortunate throughout the sequence as twice fellow tight finish Dalton Schultz appeared to fumble, however in each circumstances he was as a substitute dominated down earlier than shedding the ball. Sadly, the luck didn’t maintain up, as Schultz was dominated down earlier than he reached the top zone on a two-point conversion, Dallas’ lead solely 13-7.
The Cowboys protection simply couldn’t get off the sector on the Panthers’ subsequent possession. The guests confronted third-and-12 and third-and-11 throughout their offensive march solely to transform the primary down on each. That led to Darnold taking a quarterback draw 11 yards up the center for the landing. With the additional level, Carolina had its first lead of the sport, a bonus that held up till halftime.
Lower than 5 minutes into the second half, nevertheless, the Cowboys had been again on high. And by the top of the third quarter that they had put the sport away.
After the Panthers missed a 54-yard subject objective on their first possession of the third quarter, Dallas was arrange with good subject place at its personal 44-yard line. 4 performs later, the house aspect was ultimately zone.
Elliott pounded the protection on three straight runs for a mixed 21 yards earlier than Prescott went deep down the appropriate sideline to vast receiver Amari Cooper, who hauled within the cross below heavy protection for the 35-yard rating.
4 performs was all Dallas wanted on its subsequent sequence as properly. Schultz obtained the landing honors, however Elliott once more did the heavy lifting. This time he broke by means of the road of scrimmage, darted to the appropriate sideline and raced 47 yards to the Carolina 6-yard line, the third-longest run of his profession and his longest since ripping off a 55-yarder on Dec. 26, 2016, towards Detroit. The Cowboys missed the two-point strive, however owned a two-possession lead, 26-14.
After which Trevon Diggs did what Trevon Diggs does, choosing off passes on every of the Panthers’ subsequent two sequence, the second multi-interception sport of his profession. Diggs prolonged his streak of consecutive video games with a decide to 4 and have become solely the second participant in staff historical past, and simply the seventeenth in league document books for the reason that NFL merger, to intercept 5 passes by means of 4 video games.
The primary of these led to a 23-yard landing cross to Cedrick Wilson, who used a nifty spin transfer to succeed in pay grime.
Following Diggs’ second interception, the Cowboys labored their option to Carolina’s 20-yard line earlier than Greg Zuerlein got here out for a 37-yard subject objective on the primary snap of the fourth quarter. He simply break up the uprights to increase Dallas’ result in 36-14.
And that’s when issues obtained attention-grabbing. Simply when the Cowboys seemingly had the sport wrapped up, Carolina battled again with 14 unanswered factors of their very own to slim the deficit to only eight, 36-28.
The Panthers shortly responded with a 10-play, 75-yard drive to the top zone, Darnold ending off the possession with a 6-yard completion to tight finish Ian Thomas for the landing.
That was adopted by the guests including one other rating on a seven play, 80-yard sequence that noticed Darnold throw an 8-yard dart to Moore for the simple rating with nonetheless simply over 4 and a half minutes remaining on the clock.
However with the Panthers out of timeouts, the Cowboys put the sport away when on third-and-1 on the Carolina 41-yard line, offensive coordinator Kellen Moore known as up the proper play. Prescott handed off to Elliott, who then along with his path round the appropriate finish blocked, pitched the ball to Pollard who picked up 5 yards wanted to get the primary down and cement the victory.