ARLINGTON, Texas – The Cowboys' 48th Thanksgiving Day game ended with a decisive 33-14 Carolina Panthers victory and quarterback Tony Romo injuring his left clavicle at the end of the third quarter.
On Wednesday, the staff writers gave their gut feeling for Thursday's game. Check out the instant reactions from the staff of DallasCowboys.com.
Rob Phillips:Well, I still feel confident about this declaration: The Carolina Panthers are the most complete football team the Cowboys will face all season, with a defense that forces turnovers in bunches and a big-time quarterback who can beat you passing or running. The rest of my Thanksgiving gut feeling? Not accurate at all. Before he got hurt, Tony Romo just didn't look himself. It reminded me of his three-interception performance in the 2014 season opener against San Francisco, after he went through training camp and preseason on a restricted schedule coming off his back surgery. The rust he appeared to lose over the course of the Dolphins game clearly resurfaced on only three days' rest and preparation for the Panthers. Perhaps he simply didn't have enough time on task to have a big game against arguably the league's best defense. In any case, at 3-8, the Cowboys' hopes of contending in the NFC East took two huge steps backward.
David Helman: I predicted Carolina to win this game, but I made two badly incorrect statements during my pregame analysis. I said the Cowboys would improve on last year's Thanksgiving loss to Philly – they clearly did not. I also said this Cowboys-Panthers matchup would be "fantastic." It was not. Instead, we saw a Jason Garrett-coached Cowboys team get taken to the woodshed for 60 minutes, which hasn't happened very often the last five years. This game ranks right up there with the 2013 game against New Orleans and that 2014 loss to Philadelphia as one of the most one-sided beatdowns of Garrett's tenure. A lot of that can be credited to a truly horrendous day by Tony Romo, whose bad decision making spotted Carolina 14 points in the first half. Given an early lead, the Panthers offense didn't even need to do much except grind against a strong effort from the Dallas defense. This Carolina team is built to protect a lead, and they did exactly that. There was all of that – and that doesn't even include the loss of Romo to another shoulder injury. On this Thanksgiving night, I'm thankful that one's over with.
Nick Eatman: OK, well so much for the Cowboys "racing out to that nice lead." In fact, the opposite actually hurt them in the long run. Getting down 10-0 put them on their heels all day and they couldn't recover. I honestly thought last year's short week was more of a fluke with Romo. I thought he was dealing with different issues then and would be fine on a short rest. But it wasn't the case. He was so rusty, both mentally and physically, and his poor decision on the first interception that was returned for a score put them in a bad situation from the jump. I thought Romo was going to play much better than that, but I was definitely fooled. As for his injury, it's just another bad break, maybe literally, in a season that just can't get right. Maybe I underestimated the Panthers as a team, but it was more of an overestimation of Romo's ability to return from a short week. Now, it looks like all of the weeks will be long from here on out.
Bryan Broaddus: What was disappointing about my gut feeling was that I believed that it was going to be a game where both quarterbacks ended up playing well in this game - instead there was only one. Cam Newton managed his game well and Tony Romo did not. The Panthers defensively were never threatened by this Dallas offense. The running game was choked off and passing lanes were nonexistent. Carolina didn't need a final stop to win this game because the Cowboys were more than happy to give them all the help they needed to take it and that's what is disappointing.
For the initial gut feeling predictions of the staff writers posted on Wednesday, click here: