The Cowboys left the field Monday night for halftime against the Carolina Panthers to a chours of boos. By the time the final gun had blown, the team had done enough to change their fans minds, and did more than enough to bring home the teams first win in their new monster stadium.
Dallas used two second half touchdowns, along with two Nick Folk field goals and a two-point coversion to top the Panthers 21-7. The win puts them at 2-1 on the season, dropping the defending NFC South champs to a stunning 0-3. The Cowboys trailed 7-0 at the half, and at that point in the game only had four punts and a missed field goal to show for their offensive drives.
The final 30 minutes were a totally different story, as the Cowboys in the third quarter had the ball three times, and scored a pair of field goals around a Tashard Choice five-yard touchdown run to put Dallas up 13-7 three minutes into the fourth quarter. With the Cowboy defense stuffing the Panthers run game and QB Jake Delhomme, the defense put the nail in the coffin when Terence Newman picked off a Delhomme pass and went in from 27 yards out with 5:07 left to make it 19-7. Choice ran in the two-point try to make it 21-7.
On offense, the Cowboys amassed 449 yards, with most of the big numbers coming on the ground. Even without the injured Marion Barber, the Cowboys ran for 212 yards on 32 carries (6.6 yards per carry) against the undersized and banged up Panthers defensive line.
Choice led the way with 82 yards on 18 carries. Felix Jones, who also was banged up in the win, ran for 94 yards on just 8 carries, including a 40-yard run. Tony Romo was 22-for-33 for 255 yards and was without a TD but also without an interception.
The Panthers took a 7-0 lead with 1:03 left in the first half when Delhomme hit tight end Dante Rosario from 25 yards out with a pretty pass and an even better catch. It was one of the few bright spots for the Panthers, who continue to struggle after last seasons playoff run that saw them win the division.
Delhomme was picked off twice, and really both were not his fault. The pickoff by Newman for a score came when Steve Smith failed to continue a route, and Newman stepped where Smith should have been, and was able to get in the end zone for the score to put the game away.
The Panthers QB was 22-for-33 for 220 yards with the TD and two picks. He also was under pressure quite a bit by the Cowboys and suffered three sacks. The Panthers run game again was a non-factor, as they put up just 73 yards. They also were an awful 1-for-8 on third downs.
Dallas did enough to win, as they were able to rebound after a lackluster first half. They continued to pound the Panthers D-line with Choice and Jones, and are going to be a tough team to stop on the ground when Barber, Jones and Choice are all 100 percent, or at least close to it.
Add in a tough defense, and the Cowboys could still be a big threat in the NFC.