CHARLOTTE, N.C. – While CeeDee Lamb scored another touchdown, DaRon Bland tied an NFL record with another pick-six and Micah Parsons was credited with 2.5 sacks, there were other plays that helped the Cowboys secure their win over the Panthers.
Here are some plays that might get overlooked but helped change the course of the game:
Parsons' first sack stops early drive – On Carolina's opening drive of the game, the Panthers found some rhythm with a few first downs to get inside Cowboys territory at the 37-yard line. But though on the verge of field-goal range, things changed when Micah Parsons busted through the line to drop Bryce Young for a 9-yard loss, not only halting the drive but pushing the Panthers away from a potential field goal. Carolina punted and the Cowboys took over and drove for their first touchdown.
Panthers extend drive with horse-collar – With the Cowboys leading 7-0 early in the second quarter, they had already been gifted a pass interference penalty for 28 yards. But with the Cowboys facing another third-and-long, a short pass to Brandin Cooks to the 24-yard line appeared to set up a long field goal. Instead, Xavier Woods was flagged for both a face mask and horse collar on Cooks. The penalty pushed the Cowboys to the 12, where they eventually settled for a field goal of 30 yards.
Donovan Wilson tackle for loss – The Panthers were on the move late in the second quarter, looking to cut into Dallas' 10-0 lead. After a couple of big plays by the run and pass, Carolina had first down on the Cowboys' 13-yard line. But on first down, Miles Sanders was stopped behind the line of scrimmage for a 4-yard loss by Donovan Wilson. That put the Panthers on their heels and led to a third-down sack by DeMarcus Lawrence. Instead of cutting into the lead deeper with a touchdown, the Panthers had to settle for just a field goal, but the series all changed on the first-down tackle.
Three big penalties by Carolina on one drive – Carolina had just grabbed a field goal at the two-minute warning to make it 10-3, but the Panthers then had three 15-yard penalties on one Cowboys drive, starting with a kickoff out of bounds that gave Dallas the ball at the 40. Minutes later, Dak Prescott was hit by Amare Barno after sliding in the open field on third down. That extended the drive, and was followed by another personal foul penalty on third down by DeShawn Williams, who hit KaVontae Turpin after the play. With that, the Cowboys were able to avoid a field goal, drive inside the 10 and score a touchdown by CeeDee Lamb to make it 17-3 at halftime.
Ferguson catch turns the tide again– The momentum had started to shift towards the Panthers, who had scored a touchdown to make it 17-10 late in the third. On the final play of the quarter, Prescott converted a third-and-5 at his own 40-yard line by finding Jake Ferguson for a 24-yard gain to the Panthers' 36. When the fourth quarter began, Dallas quickly scored on a rushing touchdown by Tony Pollard to create a two-score lead once again.