By Ted Fleming
It is very tough to get a win when you take an entire quarter off. It is even harder to get a victory when you come away with no points because of a red zone interception. Worse yet, when your quarterback is your leading rusher by 29-yards, good things generally do not happen.
For the most part the Panthers played a solid game against the Cowboys at Bank of American Stadium Sunday afternoon, but at the end of the day they will have sole possession of last place in the NFC South after a disappointing 19-14 loss leaving them 1-5 and in search of what to do next.
The numbers were decent for Cam Newton – 21/37, 233-yards, 1 TD – and he led two very impressive drives down the field that should have resulted in 14-points–more than enough to get the Panthers a much needed “W”–but it will be the forced pass into the end zone that was picked off by Morris Claiborne that will be remembered more than his 5-yard hookup with wide receiver Brandon LaFell the next time Carolina had the ball.
On the 12th play of the drive from the six, Newton tried to make something happen as he was being hit; his throw came up short and into the arms of Claiborne on a second and goal losing at the very worst, a three-point attempt. Newton would make up for it with an 80-yard drive that took just four minutes and at the time it gave Carolina a 7-3 lead.
One of the reasons the Panthers’ offense seemingly recharged itself was the involvement of LaFell, who had four catches for 53-yards and a score to go along with Steve Smith’s 6 for 64. But it was the lack of a running game that once again plagued Carolina. Take away Newton’s 64-yards, the rest of the team accounted for 48.
Penalties also killed the Panthers and rookie guard Amini Silatolu had one-third of the team’s nine that ate up 71 negative yards.
Once again the defense played its collective heart out only to see their efforts go down the drain with a loss. Other than a Miles Austin dominated drive that led to only touchdown they allowed all day, the Panthers held the Cowboys to just 312 total yards, 75 less than their season average limiting the offense to four field goals.
Linebackers Luke Kuechly and James Anderson were the most active combining for 15 solo tackles while linebacker Thomas Davis stripped wide receiver Miles Austin after quarterback Tony Romo hit him with a pass at the Carolina 33. Kuechly would scoop up the loose ball and that turnover would lead to a Panthers’ touchdown.
Offensive game ball: If one had to be given it would go to Cam Newton because he played a lot like he did last season by running, passing and making the defense be wary of his every move.
Defensive game ball: The core of linebackers – Luke Kuechly, James Anderson and Thomas Davis who combined to record 37 tackles, one for a loss, one pass defense and a forced fumble.
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Ted Fleming is a freelance writer covering all things Carolina Panthers. His work can be found on Examiner.com.