The Panthers again snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. The game was a tight fought, sloppy, and at times ugly battle between 2 teams that were desperate for a win. Dallas was just a little better today. The officials definitely allowed the perimeter players to hand check and, in more than one case, even hold. But they were consistent and allowed the same physical style for both teams. Anyway let’s get to the actual game itself.
Panthers looked like the same predictable and ineffectual offense in the 1st quarter. Dallas held the ball for the majority of the 1st quarter but only scored 3 points. This was mostly due to the poor starting field position as opposed to anything our defense did. We battled and kept it close in the 1st quarter but we could not get anything going on offense.
Cam was the main reason we developed some semblance of consistency in the 2nd quarter. He was able to effectively move the ball using his legs when the Cowboys were in man defense. The down side of that was our offensive line doing a mediocre job of pass blocking for Cam. Cam’s success running the ball did allow for the passing game to open. He forced the Cowboys into zone coverage and this allowed Cam to make some really nice throws and we did move the ball down field. Cam did throw a pick in the endzone but in his defense I must say Cam had a Cowboy defender’s shoulder pad hit him in his gut in the middle of throwing the ball so that was the reason for it. Defensively the Panthers could not get any pressure on Romo. This in turn put tremendous pressure on our secondary and they were forced to cover receivers for extended periods of time. Witten was consistently looked to. We were able to move the ball down field during one drive and found the endzone.
Second half was different from the 1st. Cam was not able to or just didn’t look to run the ball. He seemed content to sit in the pocket and try to find the open man. This was not a bad strategy but we hurt ourselves throughout the game, but especially in the 2nd half, with dumb penalties and dropped passes. The penalties really stand out because they could not have come at worse possible times. And to go along with the penalties it seemed like the drops were on 3rd down passes that would have gotten us a 1st down. Despite all that, the offense was able to put together one drive that ended up scoring a touchdown. It was a hard fought short yardage run by Mike Tolbert which was preceded by a defensive holding call in the endzone. The offensive line didn’t have a good game but it wasn’t awful either. The one positive was we did have some solid run blocking but again the achilles heel is pass blocking. The Cowboys were able to apply good pressure with just their front four.
Our front four on the other hand may have as well have stayed in the locker room. Romo had plenty of time to pick and choose where he wanted to go to with the ball. The defense didn’t play a bad game they were just not put into situations that favored them. We really didn’t bring much pressure and when we did it was not effective. I have to question McDermott’s play calling. I have never liked him as our defensive coordinator but I am now calling for his immediate and unconditional release. Rivera needs to be the man calling defensive plays, that is what he does best anyway.
In the end, the game could have been completely different had just a few things occurred differently. We played well enough to win this game, it would have been an ugly win, but a win never the less. That is the problem with this team. For the last season and a half we played well enough win several games but we have only won 7. I wonder what our problem is? We have a Pro-Bowl quarterback, 2 top level running backs, a highly prized free agent fullback, an All-Pro wide receiver, a top tight end, and a solid yet still developing offensive line. Where does our problem lie then?
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