have breakout games, helping the Cowboys keep their playoff hopes alive with a much-needed 24-20 victory.
Jones, who had been slowed by a high-ankle sprain all season, finally recorded his first 100-yard game, busting out for 194 and two scores. Ware, who hadn't registered a sack in eight straight games, also broke of his slump, sacking Delhomme three times, forcing three fumbles in the process.
And the most miraculous part of all was the Cowboys' ability to shut down Panthers receiver Steve Smith, something no team had done all year. Not only did they take Smith out of the game for three quarters, holding him to just one catch, but he took himself out of the final quarter, letting his frustrations get the best of him when he pushed an official while trying to argue a call in the third quarter.
Still, the Cowboys needed some heroics. After Proehl gave the Panthers a 20-17 lead with a 32-yard touchdown catch, the Cowboys were able to get into field-goal range for Billy Cundiff, who had already missed one field goal and had another blocked. To tie the game, Cundiff missed again, but the Cowboys were given new life thanks to a running-into-the-kicker penalty on the Panthers. Instead of settling for a tie, the Cowboys got the win on Drew Bledsoe's touchdown pass to Terry Glenn with just 24 seconds left.
It proved to be Cundiff's last kick with the Cowboys, who released him the following week.
As it turned out, the Cowboys didn't get help they needed in the final week of the season. Both the Redskins, and yes, the Panthers, won their season-finales on the road to eliminate the Cowboys, who certainly didn't look like a playoff team in their final game, falling to the hapless Rams, 20-10 at Texas Stadium.
The Panthers made the most of their trip to the playoffs, beating the Giants and Bears on the road before falling to the Seahawks in the NFC Championship Game.
2003 Playoffs - Panthers 29, Cowboys 10 - You know how sometimes you just have a bad feeling about something and you don't know why? That was the case for me just before kickoff of this playoff game at the then-named Ericsson Stadium. When the Panthers were being introduced and those thousands of fans were just roaring and waving their "spirit" towels or whatever they called them, you just knew it was going to be a long night.
It was. The Panthers rolled to a 19-point victory thanks to several big plays from Smith, who showed then-rookie Terence Newman he still had some growing up to do.
Quincy Carter had led the Cowboys to a 10-6 record, but the Cowboys were never that competitive in the game, which proved to be his last in Dallas.
2003 - Cowboys 24, Panthers 20 - Maybe the reason the Panthers played with such emotion in that playoff game, aside from the fact that it was a playoff game, was to avenge this tough loss to the Cowboys back in November. In a game between two of the best teams in the NFC, the Cowboys outlasted the Panthers to improve their record to 8-4, assuring them of at least a .500 record after suffering three straight 5-11 seasons. After the game, a teary-eyed Parcells said, "you can't call them losers anymore."
2002 - Cowboys 14, Panthers 13 - If you're a young football coach on any level, trying to stress the importance of playing a full four quarters without letting up, this game could've been a model example. Carolina had just whipped the Carter-led Cowboys for about 56 minutes. The score was 13-0, and the Cowboys were headed for their first home shutout in 11 years until something magical happened. I was there, therefore I can say "magical". But it's probably closer to "lucky". Anyhow, the Cowboys got right back in the game on an 80-yard touchdown pass from Carter to Joey Galloway, but not before the ball passed through the hands of a Panthers safety. The tipped ball fell right into Galloway's hands and just like that, the Cowboys trailed 13-7. After the defense came to life and forced a punt, the game's momentum had clearly shifted. Carter drove the offense down the field again, and facing another fourth-down, fired a bullet to Bryant, who made a juggling catch in the end zone with just 56 seconds to play. A booth review confirmed the