The Carolina Panthers suffered their first loss of the season Sunday on the road to the Cowboys, 36-28. After dominating its opponents the first three weeks of the season, Carolina’s defense was shredded by Dallas for 433 yards of offense.
The Panthers (3-1) had a hard time slowing down the ground game, as Ezekiel Elliot, Tony Pollard and Dak Prescott combined for 245 yards and a touchdown on 34 carries. Prescott was also efficient throwing, completing 14-of-22 passes for 188 yards, four TDs and zero interceptions.
Carolina led at halftime, 14-13, thanks to a pair of rushing touchdowns from quarterback Sam Darnold, who currently leads the league in rushing scores with five, but it quickly turned around in the third quarter. The Panthers got the ball first in the second half and missed a 54-yard field goal on their first drive. Dallas (3-1) used the short field position to its advantage and scored a touchdown four plays later to take the lead for good at 20-14.
After a Carolina punt and another Dallas touchdown made it 26-14 in the third quarter, things went from bad to worse. In a stretch of four plays, Darnold threw two interceptions to corner Trevon Diggs, the NFC Defensive Player of the Month for September. The Cowboys scored 10 points off those two turnovers to extend the lead to 36-14 at the start of the fourth quarter. The Panthers scored two touchdowns on their final two drives — both were passes from Darnold to D.J. Moore, who finished the game with eight catches for 113 yards and the two scores — but it was too late for Carolina to make a full comeback.
Playing without Christian McCaffrey, who injured his right hamstring, the Panthers ran for 113 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries.
Darnold was sacked five times Sunday. Carolina’s defense, which entered the game leading the league in sacks, failed to bring down Prescott behind the line. Next up for the Panthers is a date with the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday at home. The Eagles are 1-3 and lost to the Chiefs on Sunday, 42-30. Carolina is 5-7 all-time against Philadelphia, including a 2-3 record at home. The last time these two teams faced, Carolina defeated the Eagles, 21-17, on Oct. 21, 2018.