|Cowboys have dominated Panthers in the regular sea|
(except for the last game) The last time the Dallas Cowboys faced off against the Carolina Panthers represents a dark memory for Cowboys fans. It was Thanksgiving of 2015. Tony Romo had returned the previous week from a broken collarbone that had sidelined the longtime quarterback for seven games. Dallas won exactly zero of those seven games Womens Leighton Vander Esch Jersey , illustrating both Romoís value to the franchise and the front officeís failure to have an adequate replacement on the roster.Still, despite a 3-7 record fans clung to feint hopes the team could sweep the teamís remaining games and sneak into the playoffs. Little did we know we were about to see the end of an era. Things didnít go well. Romoís second pass of the day was intercepted and returned for a touchdown. Trailing 13-3 late in the first half Romo was again intercepted and the ball again returned for a touchdown. Finally, late in the third quarter and trailing 30-6, Panthersí linebacker Thomas Davis sacked Romo, leaving the quarterback sprawled in pain on the field. Both Romoís and the Cowboysí season was over. But thatís not all. Fans had no idea at that time, but we had seen the end of the Tony Romo era as he would never again make an NFL start. That game was also noteworthy for the fact the Panthers actually beat the Cowboys. While the Panthers rank fairly low in terms of teams Cowboys fans love to hate, there was a time when the two played virtually every year and Dallas usually came out on top. Consider:Between 1996 and 2007, Dallas and Carolina would face-off ten times (playing every year except 1999 and 2001).Dallas won seven of the ten matchups, including a 7-1 regular season record.Since 2007, Dallas has won two of the teamís three matchups.The Cowboys 0.818 winning percentage (9-2) is the teamís highest against any opponent in the regular season.Unfortunately, Carolina won both of the teamís playoff contests. The tripletsí era Cowboys saw their bid for a repeat Super Bowl (and fourth Super Bowl in five years) fizzle in Charlotte in January of 1997. The 26-17 loss was the first matchup between the two teams. Michael Irvin was injured on the first series of the game, leaving Troy Aikman with Deion Sanders, Kevin Williams and Kelvin Martin as pass catching targets. The Panthers also knocked an overachieving 2003 Cowboys from the playoffs with a convincing 29-10 wild card win following the 2003 season. This was Bill Parcells first season and frankly it was a miracle that he willed a team featuring Quincy Carter at quarterback and Troy Hambrick at running back to the post-season. Otherwise Dallas has largely owned the regular season series. Notable games include:Cowboys 27 - Panthers 20 (1998)Deion Sanders makes a late-game interception to help preserve an early season victory against the Steve Buerlein-led Panthers. Cowboys 16 - Panthers 13 (2000)This rather dull overtime victory was unremarkable except for Emmitt Smithís 132 rushing yards. Emmitt, at this time, was within shooting distance of the NFLís all-time rushing record so every game he ripped off big numbers such as this brought his lifelong goal just a bit closer. He would top the 132-yard mark only three more times in his illustrious career. Cowboys 14 - Panthers 13 (2002)This is surely the most unlikely Cowboys victory over the Panthers. Carolina led 14-0 with just under four minutes remaining when the Cowboys took over on their own 20-yard line. Until that point the Cowboysí offense had generated seven punts, an interception, a fumble and had turned the ball over on downs. So, of course Quincy Carter immediately threw an 80-yard touchdown to Joey Galloway, the Cowboys defense stiffened and then Carter led a 10-play, 67-yard touchdown drive culminating in a 24-yard TD to Antonio Bryant. Bizarre stat: Dave Campo-coached teams went 2-0 against the Panthers and 13-33 against everyone else. Cowboys 24 - Panthers 20 (2003)This was the game that had both players and fans buying into first-year Cowboys coach Bill Parcellsí voodoo. The Panthers were a good team (came within a last-minute field goal of forcing overtime in the Super Bowl) and the two teams engaged in a good old-fashioned, hard-fought grudge match. Dallas managed to run the clock out by perfectly executing a four-minute drill. That game Youth Allen Hurns Jersey , and the entire 2003 season, is well documented in this Deep Blue segment. Cowboys 35 - Panthers 14 (2006)The Panthers ran out to a quick 14-0 lead and things looked dark, however, Dallas would respond with 35 consecutive points for an easy victory. But thatís not why this game is noteworthy. This was Tony Romoís first NFL start after wrestling the starting quarterback job from Drew Bledsoe the previous week. Romo would go 24-for-36 for 270 yards, a single touchdown and one interception for an 86.6 quarterback rating. Thus, Romoís first and last starts both came against the Panthers. Hopefully Dallas will continue its regular season dominance against the Panthers this Sunday. What do you think BTB, will we remember the 2018 season opener fondly or will it be a dark memory?Cowboys lesson learned: The Texans highlighted their biggest weakness An overtime game is, by definition, close. The Dallas Cowboys managed to end regulation tied with the Houston Texans before they lost due to a combination of failed execution and, in hindsight at least, a really bad coaching decision on fourth-and-one. But the truth is, it wasnít really that close, as the Texans outgained and outplayed the Cowboys almost the entire game. Only some really boneheaded calls of their own plus some big defensive plays at just the right moment kept Houston from winning it pretty handily. They moved the ball up and down the field, mostly at will, while the Cowboys had the same problems with third down conversions and settling for field goals that we have seen all season. It was a hot mess of a performance by the Dallas offense, and it showed that there is a clear way to shut them down. You slow down the run game and rush Dak Prescott relentlessly. It is the biggest weakness they have, and Houston exploited it almost to perfection.Ezekiel Elliott only had 54 rushing yards in the game, which put the pressure on the passing offense. That is still not working well, especially on the road in front of a hostile crowd. It is not just one thing, either.First is that Prescott is not handling the pressure well. He tends to be inaccurate and indecisive with the ball, or misses what look like better options to throw the ball. With the Texans pass rush coming at him hard all game Womens Sean Lee Jersey , the improvement of week four evaporated. The first interception off the hands of Tavon Austin came on a pass that, while possibly catchable, was clearly too high and too far in front. Had that ball been on target where Austin did not have to leap for it, not only would it not have gone over to Houston, it would have been a first down and Austin had a lot of room to use his speed and elusiveness. Too many other passes from Prescott were much the same. Though they were in the strictest sense balls that could be caught, they required the receiver to adjust way too much. It was especially frustrating to see him failing at this while Deshaun Watson was escaping similar hard rushes, but throwing accurately and making big plays.Meanwhile, the receivers certainly did not help at times. There were notable drops, at least two of which killed drives in a game where just one more score could have delivered the win for the Cowboys. The wide receivers as a group are just not having an impact. Ezekiel Elliott once more had the most catches with seven, but with only 4.3 yards gained on average, that did not help. Clearly the Texans were ready for the screen pass to him, blowing it up when they tried.Surprisingly, the best receiving threat for the Cowboys may now be tight end Geoff Swaim. He had 55 yards on three catches. That is still far too low a total for your top receiver, but he did have the one long play when he was used in a screen pass. That caught Houston a bit off guard, and Swaim showed again that he can run very effectively after the catch. And Rico Gathers had the third longest catch of the game to excite his fans.But all that is not enough with the wide receivers not doing much at all. And now there is a bit of dissension emerging over just who is the problem there. Allen Hurns is disputing the claims that the wide receivers are just not getting open.That certainly looks like some tension in the locker room, which is never a good thing.Things donít stop with the quarterback and the receivers, though. The offensive line is also letting the pressure come through far too quickly. Joe Looney has done a much better job filling in for Travis Frederick than expected, but you still have to question if he and rookie Connor Williams are not making things a little too easy on the pass rush. In any case, Prescott was under fire all game. He was only sacked twice, but took six hits and evaded several other rushes with his mobility. It was exciting to see him do his own spin-move escape from J.J. Watt to find Tavon Austin for a 44-yard gain, but that was more an exception Womens Connor Williams Jersey , as a moving Prescott was usually not making connections.Meanwhile, letís throw some shade at Scott Linehan. One of Prescottís sacks came just before the two-minute warning of the fourth quarter, and it looked like a really bad play for the situation. The pass rush had been coming hard all game, limiting the time to get a throw off, but this play involved a double fake on play-action. If it had decoyed the defense, it might have worked. But there had been no indication prior that the Texans were biting on those fakes, and by the time he was able to look downfield, all Prescott could see was that pass rush bearing down on him. It still seems too much like Linehan is determined to run plays without taking the situation into account. A slow developing pass play was the last thing the Cowboys needed or even seemed capable of doing. So that is how you thwart the Dallas offense. A good pass rush plus the ability to keep Elliott from gashing you. And that is a big problem, because in the next six games, Dallas faces Jacksonville, Washington (twice), Tennessee, and Philadelphia - all teams that have been very solid doing just those things so far this season. That is shaping up to be a really hard stretch, and if the Cowboys donít find some kind of solution, the season could be pretty much done for by mid-November.No sugarcoating here. Not only is this a huge vulnerability for Dallas, there is no evidence they can fix it effectively. A dynamic wide receiver is not available at the local PlayerMart, and as much as you may want to fire Linehan and Jason Garrett, that wouldnít turn things around in mid-season. Brace yourselves. The rest of the NFL knows how to stop the Cowboys, and way too many of them are fully capable of doing it.