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Carolina Panthers literally had their best defensive game last season against the Dallas Cowboys

Carolina’s finest hour was one of the lowest for Dallas.

Dallas Cowboys v Carolina Panthers Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

If you’re like me then you really enjoy football documentaries and different series that profile various teams. I can’t get enough of that kind of stuff.

Admittedly, I haven’t started on the latest season of Netflix’s Last Chance U, but I’m finally finishing up on the latest season from Amazon’s All or Nothing (plus Hard Knocks is around the corner!).

One year ago we watched AoN with a careful eye as the series chronicled the 2017 Dallas Cowboys. It was fascinating to get a peek behind the curtain at how that season unfolded for Dallas, granted in terrible fashion, and given the way the Panthers fell apart last season this latest crop of episodes has a similar sort of feel.

While watching the series I noticed something during a Panthers defensive meeting. They had just lost to the Seattle Seahawks (their third loss in a row) and Ron Rivera was preaching to the unit about how they needed to be better. Behind him on the wall was a goal chart for the Panthers defense.

As you can see there are five goals for the Panthers defense in each of their games:

  • Win
  • Score on defense or put offense in scoring position
  • Create two or more takeaways
  • Hold opponent to 17 points or less
  • Force four or more three & outs

Now this moment is taking place after the Seattle game and right before the Tampa Bay one so the season wasn’t totally over for the Panthers yet; however, up to this point they had only accomplished all five of their objectives against one team... the Dallas Cowboys.

It’s not surprising that Carolina had a landmark day against Dallas in 2018. The two met in Week 1 in what was one of the (obviously) worst offensive performances for the Cowboys in the Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott (namely Scott Linehan) era, and so much about who they became changed well after this.

The Panthers didn’t get a Cowboys team that featured Amari Cooper. It was a disaster but the measurement of it within the Panthers minds wasn’t fully known. For what it’s worth, the only team that Carolina wound up accomplishing all of these against was in fact Dallas as they lost every game save for Week 17 and did not generate two takeaways in that effort.

Thankfully the Cowboys rebounded from their rocky start to last season and look to be making concerted efforts to make sure nothing like that happens again. Hopefully all of the defensive goal charts of the teams they play in 2019 remain blank.

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