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Cowboys Hope To Lasso Panthers With Improved Ground Game And Romo To Bryant Hookups

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By Ted Fleming

Dallas Cowboys by the Numbers
2012 Record: 2-3
Record vs. Panthers: 8-3
Streak vs. Panthers: W4
Last Meeting: Cowboys 21, Panthers 7 (@ Dallas Sept. 28, 2009)
Last Meeting in Carolina: Cowboys 20, Panthers 13 (Dec. 22, 2007)
Next Game: Sunday at Bank of American Stadium, Charlotte (73,504) @ 1:00 p.m.

When you think of the Dallas Cowboys, the first thing that generally comes to mind is a winning tradition. and nothing makes that point any better than a 450-335-6 franchise mark. That translates into a .573 winning percentage–second highest in league annals behind only the Chicago Bears, however, things have not gone as smoothly as owner Jerry Jones would have liked in recent years.

Already a game under .500, “America’s Team” has not seen the postseason since 2009 and made it just twice since 2007. Over that span including this season they are 49-36 (.577), but if you take away the two playoff years of 11-5 and 13-3, things fall into negative territory (25-28, .472).

Head coach Jason Garrett has threatened to start benching players, but you know that quarterback Tony Romo will be in the lineup come hell or high water or until he helmet has a sticker on it other than the blue star.  Jerry Jones has gone one step further intimating that blowing up the current team at season’s end is not off the table.

romo Cowboys Hope To Lasso Panthers With Improved Ground Game And Romo To Bryant Hookups

(Credit, Rob Carr/Getty Images)

The Cowboys stats can be very misleading. They are averaging 387.4 yards and 287.8 passing yards a game, both sixth in the NFL although the other two numbers – points scored (23.8) and rushing yards (99.6) are in the bottom half of the league at 24th and 20th, respectively. No running game usually equals more passing attempts and that generally leads to more turnovers.

Romo is upside-down in touchdowns to interceptions, 7 to 9, has lost two fumbles and has been sacked nine times. Despite those numbers, Dallas took some positives out of last week’s loss to the Ravens, a team that prides itself on defense.

Felix Jones scampered for 92 of the Cowboys 227-yards on the ground, including a touchdown run of 22. The former number one draft pick stepped in when DeMarco Murray went down with a sprained left foot and will likely be the starter this Sunday against the Panthers.

Meanwhile, Romo seems to have found his new number one target in Dez Bryant. having targeted him 48 times, 28 of them coming in the last couple of games where the third-year pro has reeled in 21 of them for 200 yards and a pair of TDs. Carolina may double-team the emerging star. although that opens up a lot of the field if Jones is having a solid afternoon.

If there is one area where the Cowboys shine it is their pass defense, ranked number one giving up 181.6 per contest and that could spell trouble for Carolina QB Cam Newton. Against the rush they are also 13th so the Panthers will have their work cut out for them on offense.

STATISTICAL COMPARISONS:
Through five games the Cowboys have committed 46 penalties (330-yards) to the Panthers 25 (210).
Scoring average and opponent scoring average is a virtual dead heat
Each club is at the bottom of the league in turnover margin with Dallas at -8 (tie-29th) and Carolina -5 (26th).
The biggest separation is total defense where “America’s Team” is second in the league compared to 23rd for the Panthers.

CONNECTIONS:
Cowboys guard Mackenzy Bernadeau was drafted by the Panthers in 2008 and played for the team from 2008-11 seasons,
Cowboys’ defensive line coach Brian Baker held the same coaching position with the Panthers from 2009-2010.
Panthers’ cornerback Josh Thomas was selected by the Cowboys in the fifth round of the 2011 NFL Draft.

For more Local Football Bloggers and the latest Panthers news, see CBS Sports Charlotte.

Ted Fleming is a freelance writer covering all things Carolina Panthers. His work can be found on Examiner.com.

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