The Dallas Cowboys 2/1 hosted the Carolina Panthers 3/0 at AT&T Stadium in what was expected to be a tough battle. The Cowboys run game has been stellar the last two weeks. While Dak Prescott has been nothing short of superb and let's not forget the defense with rookie sensation Micah Parson and reigning NFC Defensive Player of the month CB Trevon Diggs with his league-leading 3 interceptions. The question is how will they match up against the undefeated Carolina Panthers and their upstart Sam Darnold and the highly vaunted Panther defense.
On the Cowboys' opening drive, the number 1 ranked Carolina Panther defense immediately forced the Cowboys to a 3 and out. On the Panthers' opening drive the Dallas Cowboys returned the favor forcing a 3 and out. Punctuated by a sack by Randy Gregory of Sam Darnold on 3rd down.
The Cowboys on their second drive took to the ground and used their physical running game to overpower the Panthers' run defense. Ezekiel Elliott running with a purpose and Tony Pollard hitting the line with his quickness. The Cowboys made their first scoring drive of the game look easy with 52 rushing yards on the drive. Ezekiel Elliott finished the drive off with a 2-yard plunge. After the Greg Zuerlein extra point, the Cowboys took an early 7/0 lead.
The Panthers bounced right back with big runs by Chuba Hubbard and a spectacular 20-yard catch and run by DJ Moore bouncing off a tackle to get in the red zone. After another pass and catch from Darnold to Moore to the Cowboys 1. Sam Darnold ran the ball in for a touchdown from 1 yard out on a fake pitch and run. After the extra point the Panthers even the score 7/7.
The Cowboys dodge a bullet off of a bad call on Dalton Schultz's apparent fumble. The Cowboys then went for it on fourth and 2 from their own 48. Dak Prescott under pressure breaks out and scrambles for a 22-yard run to get to the Panthers' 32. After a 1 yard Elliott run the first quarter came to an end with the score tied 7/7.
Dak Prescott and the Cowboys began the second quarter quickly and on fire. Prescott hit Amari Cooper on a for 14 yards then a pass to Blake Jarwin coming across the middle for an 18-yard touchdown pass. After a penalty for 12 men on the Panthers during the extra point, the Cowboys went for the 2 point conversion. Dalton Schultz caught a quick pass from Prescott but was stopped just shy of getting in. The Cowboys settled for a 13/7 lead.
Once again not to be deterred, Sam Darnold put the Panthers on his back and drove the offense down the field, picking up a first down with his legs. Then later in the drive slipped a sure sack to complete another pass and finally keeping the ball once again running up the middle for an 11-yard touchdown for his 5th rushing touchdown of the season. After a Gonzalez extra point, the Panthers took a 14/7 lead into the half.
The Carolina Panthers started the second half with a 39-yard pass and run for to the Cowboys 39 yard line. After applying pressure on Sam Darnold forcing an errant pass on third down and 7. The Panthers' field goal kick Z. Gonzalez missed a 54 yard FG attempt.
On the ensuing drive, Ezekiel Elliot started the Cowboys' drive off with a nifty 11 yard run to the Panthers 45. Elliott continued with two more power runs for another first down. On the next play, Dak Prescott with plenty of time dropped back and threw a beautiful deep ball to Amari Cooper down the right sideline for a 35-yard touchdown. After the extra point, the Cowboys took back the lead 20/14.
After recording their fourth sack of Sam Darnold. The Cowboys forced the Panthers' second punt of the second half. Taking over at their own 34-yard line, Prescott hit CeeDee Lamb for 2 quick passes to get to the Cowboy 47. Ezekiel Elliott continued his stellar play with a 47 yard run to the Panthers 6 giving him 117 yards on 14 carries and a touchdown. To cap off the drive Prescott hit a wide-open Dalton Schultz for a 6-yard touchdown. The Cowboys went for 2 but Dak was unable to find anyone open and threw the ball out the back of the endzone. The Cowboys extended their lead to 12 points 26/14.
On the Panthers, next possession sensing the game slipping away went for it on fourth and 1 on their own 34-yard line converted it on a hand-off to DJ Moore coming in motion for a 6-yard game. Three plays later Trevon Diggs picked Sam Darnold for his 4th interception in 4 games. Diggs ran the ball back to the Carolina 37. Tony Pollard took a handoff to the Panthers 23 for a 14 yard gain. On second down Dak Prescott hit Cedrick Wilson at the 8 and Wilson made a Panther defender miss with a nice spin move and pranced into the endzone for a 23-yard touchdown for Daks third of the quarter. After the extra point by Zuerlein, the Cowboys extended the lead to 33/14 scoring 20 points in the quarter.
Carolina and Sam Darnold feeling the pressure, came out on their next possession trying to stymie the Cowboys' momentum made things worse with another turnover. Yes, Trevon Diggs once again showed why he's the reigning NFC Defensive Player of the Month by picking off Darnold at the Panthers' 31-yard line. The Cowboys trying to put the Panthers away started the fourth quarter on Carolinas 20 yard line sent in Greg Zuerlein to kick a 37-yard field goal which he converted giving the Cowboys a commanding 36/14 lead.
In the second half of the game, the Dallas Cowboys defense dominated the third quarter and continued in the fourth. Micah Parsons gave the D their fifth sack of the day on the Panthers' first possession of the fourth quarter. Carolina converted a fourth and 1 on their own 34 to keep a must-score drive alive. The Panthers get a break on a Cowboy Kazee controversial personal foul hitting a defenseless player to get in Dallas territory. Darnold methodically took the Panthers down the field finally hitting Moore while scrambling to his left for a 6-yard touchdown. After a Gonzalez extra point, the Panthers climbed a little closer to the Cowboys making the score 36/21 midway in the fourth.
The Panthers not giving up while Cowboys slack up on defense drive down the field deep in the Cowboys territory off a big 55-yard pass to Zylstra. Sam Darnold then hit Moore coming across the middle for an 8-yard touchdown and a Gonzalez extra point to tighten the game to 36/28.
Dallas took the ball over with a little over four minutes left in the game and went back to that power running game. Tony Pollard gashed the Panthers for 18 yards. Elliott followed with 2 power runs eating up the clock as the Panthers had no more timeouts to stop the clock. Dak Prescott then dropped back and hit Schultz for 8 more yards to take it down to the 2:00 minute warning. On third down and 1, the Cowboys used a triple-option Dak to Zek to Pollard to get the game-clinching first down.
The Dallas Cowboys win 36/28 to go to 3/1 and dropping the Carolina Panthers to 3/1. Overall it was a great performance by Dallas on all phases of the game. Dak Prescott finished with 188 yards and 4 touchdowns completing 14 of 22 passes. Ezekiel Elliott ran roughshod on the Panthers' number one defense rushing for 143 yards plus a touchdown on 20 carries. Tony Pollard pitched in 67 yards on
10 carries. The Cowboys finished the game with 244 yards rushing.
As for the Cowboys' defense, what more can we say? Trevon Diggs, 2 more interceptions, giving him a league-leading 5 for the season and at least 1 in every game of the season. Randy Gregory had two big sacks and Micah Parsons picked up another as the Cowboys' defense collected five for the day. The Dallas Cowboys have now won three straight to go to 3/1. Next week the Cowboys will host rival New York Giants next week at AT&T Stadium Oct 10, 2021, at 3:25 PM
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