Carolina Panthers: Week 1 Defensive grades vs. Dallas Cowboys

(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Julius Peppers and Luke Kuechly
(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Julius Peppers and Luke Kuechly /
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Carolina Panthers v New England Patriots
FOXBORO, MA – OCTOBER 01: Graham Gano #9 of the Carolina Panthers celebrates with Michael Palardy #5 after kicking a 48-yard field goal during the fourth quarter to defeat the New England Patriots 33-30 at Gillette Stadium on October 1, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) /

Special Teams: B-

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Kicker Graham Gano had just one field goal opportunity prior to the half, successfully converting a 27-yard attempt. He missed one extra-point but it wasn’t due to a failed kick as the ball careened off the leg of guard Amini Silatolu, who stepped into its path after the snap.

Michael Palardy helped Carolina win the battle of field position with a few field-flipping punts, including three landing inside the 20-yard line.

Carolina only received two kickoffs, both touchbacks, but wide receiver Damiere Byrd enjoyed a successful punt return game until exiting with an injury. Byrd tallied 47 yards on three returns including a 30-yard sprint that helped set up the first Carolina touchdown.

Rookie D.J. Moore replaced Byrd and gained 15-yards on his one return attempt. Dallas also had zero kickoff return attempts while averaging just over six-yards on two punt returns.

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Overall, it was a solid debut for new defensive coordinator Eric Washington and his group as the defense appears ready to keep Carolina in a lot of games this season.