Despite what the final score may suggest, this was yet another dominant victory for the Dallas Cowboys. The 36-28 win improves the Cowboys record to 3-1 on the season with two more games on the schedule before their bye week in Week 7. It’s not completely out of the realm of possibility they improve to 5-1 between now and then, but the Giants and Patriots will have something to say about that.
Beating the Carolina Panthers rather decisively should be an eye-opener for teams around the league who have to play the Cowboys this season or who might see them in the playoffs. They’re playing like a serious contender right now, and as such, could have a bull’s-eye on their back the rest of the year. But, this isn’t time for them to get overconfident. They need to be on top of their game week to week, despite the Super Bowl aspirations.
While the future looks bright for this year’s squad, it’s important to remain focused and that means learning and adapting from what went right and wrong after each game. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some the highs and lows from the Cowboys Week 4 matchup with the Panthers, because as always, it should be treated as a learning experience.
THE GOOD - Flip a coin. Ezekiel Elliott or Trevon Diggs?
Against what was touted as one of the best, if not the best, run defenses in the league, Ezekiel Elliott finish Sunday afternoon’s game rushing for a total of 143 yards and one touchdown on just 20 carries. Not to be outdone on the opposite side of the ball, Trevon Diggs picked off QB Sam Darnold twice, bringing his INT total to five on the season. This is his fourth consecutive game with an INT and because of that he could be putting his name in contention to be the Defensive MVP this year. You can decide which player had the better game of the two.
THE BAD - Lack of first-half enthusiasm/energy
Blame it on a short week coming off a Monday Night Football game or whatever you want, but the Dallas Cowboys played flat in the first half against the Carolina Panthers Sunday afternoon. Both offensively and defensively they looked lethargic. They couldn’t match the Panthers energy early on and because of that they had to go in at halftime to do some soul-searching. Luckily, they were able to come out in the second half and play with a renewed energy. Their slow start didn’t come back to bite them in the end this time, but it could very well could have.
THE UGLY - Questionable coaching decisions
There were several head-scratching coaching decisions made by Mike McCarthy during the game against the Panthers on Sunday. From declining the personal foul penalty to the decision to give Trevon Diggs “player management” time to rest on the sideline with about 10 minutes to play in the game, McCarthy will have a lot of explaining to do. His tendency to play cautious/complacent not only against the Panthers, but so far this season are making some of these games a lot closer than they should be. It’s time for him to learn to go for the jugular to make a point with a clear and decisive victory.