The last time the Dallas Cowboys faced off against the Carolina Panthers represents a dark memory for Cowboys fans. It was Thanksgiving of 2015. Tony Romo had returned the previous week from a broken collarbone that had sidelined the longtime quarterback for seven games. Dallas won exactly zero of those seven games, illustrating both Romo’s value to the franchise and the front office’s failure to have an adequate replacement on the roster. Still, despite a 3-7 record fans clung to feint hopes the team could sweep the team’s remaining games and sneak into the playoffs. Little did we know we were about to see the end of an era.
Things didn’t go well. Romo’s second pass of the day was intercepted and returned for a touchdown. Trailing 13-3 late in the first half Romo was again intercepted and the ball again returned for a touchdown. Finally, late in the third quarter and trailing 30-6, Panthers’ linebacker Thomas Davis sacked Romo, leaving the quarterback sprawled in pain on the field. Both Romo’s and the Cowboys’ season was over.
But that’s not all. Fans had no idea at that time, but we had seen the end of the Tony Romo era as he would never again make an NFL start.
That game was also noteworthy for the fact the Panthers actually beat the Cowboys. While the Panthers rank fairly low in terms of teams Cowboys fans love to hate, there was a time when the two played virtually every year and Dallas usually came out on top.
- Between 1996 and 2007, Dallas and Carolina would face-off ten times (playing every year except 1999 and 2001).
- Dallas won seven of the ten matchups, including a 7-1 regular season record.
- Since 2007, Dallas has won two of the team’s three matchups.
- The Cowboys 0.818 winning percentage (9-2) is the team’s highest against any opponent in the regular season.
Unfortunately, Carolina won both of the team’s playoff contests. The triplets’ era Cowboys saw their bid for a repeat Super Bowl (and fourth Super Bowl in five years) fizzle in Charlotte in January of 1997. The 26-17 loss was the first matchup between the two teams. Michael Irvin was injured on the first series of the game, leaving Troy Aikman with Deion Sanders, Kevin Williams and Kelvin Martin as pass catching targets.
The Panthers also knocked an overachieving 2003 Cowboys from the playoffs with a convincing 29-10 wild card win following the 2003 season. This was Bill Parcells first season and frankly it was a miracle that he willed a team featuring Quincy Carter at quarterback and Troy Hambrick at running back to the post-season.
Otherwise Dallas has largely owned the regular season series. Notable games include:
Cowboys 27 - Panthers 20 (1998)
Deion Sanders makes a late-game interception to help preserve an early season victory against the Steve Buerlein-led Panthers.
Cowboys 16 - Panthers 13 (2000)
This rather dull overtime victory was unremarkable except for Emmitt Smith’s 132 rushing yards. Emmitt, at this time, was within shooting distance of the NFL’s all-time rushing record so every game he ripped off big numbers such as this brought his lifelong goal just a bit closer. He would top the 132-yard mark only three more times in his illustrious career.
Cowboys 14 - Panthers 13 (2002)
This is surely the most unlikely Cowboys victory over the Panthers. Carolina led 14-0 with just under four minutes remaining when the Cowboys took over on their own 20-yard line. Until that point the Cowboys’ offense had generated seven punts, an interception, a fumble and had turned the ball over on downs.
So, of course Quincy Carter immediately threw an 80-yard touchdown to Joey Galloway, the Cowboys defense stiffened and then Carter led a 10-play, 67-yard touchdown drive culminating in a 24-yard TD to Antonio Bryant.
Bizarre stat: Dave Campo-coached teams went 2-0 against the Panthers and 13-33 against everyone else.
Cowboys 24 - Panthers 20 (2003)
This was the game that had both players and fans buying into first-year Cowboys coach Bill Parcells’ voodoo. The Panthers were a good team (came within a last-minute field goal of forcing overtime in the Super Bowl) and the two teams engaged in a good old-fashioned, hard-fought grudge match. Dallas managed to run the clock out by perfectly executing a four-minute drill. That game, and the entire 2003 season, is well documented in this Deep Blue segment.
Cowboys 35 - Panthers 14 (2006)
The Panthers ran out to a quick 14-0 lead and things looked dark, however, Dallas would respond with 35 consecutive points for an easy victory. But that’s not why this game is noteworthy. This was Tony Romo’s first NFL start after wrestling the starting quarterback job from Drew Bledsoe the previous week.
Romo would go 24-for-36 for 270 yards, a single touchdown and one interception for an 86.6 quarterback rating. Thus, Romo’s first and last starts both came against the Panthers.
Hopefully Dallas will continue its regular season dominance against the Panthers this Sunday. What do you think BTB, will we remember the 2018 season opener fondly or will it be a dark memory?
Will Sunday’s season opener against the Panthers be a fond memory for Cowboys’ fans?
This poll is closed
Of course! Dallas will dominate!
Yes - will be a dramatic win with late game heroics.
Probably not - Dallas loses close.
Nope - Cowboys can’t compete.