The Cowboys went into Charlotte and emerged with a pretty clean 33-10 victory over the Panthers, extinguishing any concerns over this being a trap game. It wasn’t as flashy a win as last week’s, but the Cowboys still dominated their opponent.
That was thanks in large part to some top-notch performances on both sides of the ball. Here’s the highest graded players from the game, according to Pro Football Focus.
Offense continued to produce
It’s a testament to how good this offense has been lately that Sunday felt like a letdown, but the offense topped 300+ total yards for the fifth straight week and notched three touchdowns on the day. The Panthers slowed them down more than any other defense has been able to lately, but Dallas still moved the ball well.
TE Luke Schoonmaker - 89.2
Luke Schoonmaker has had a rough go of it in his rookie year, but he had his best game of the season on Sunday. He only saw two targets but caught both of them, with the first being an 18-yard touchdown with an impressive grab through heavy contact. If the Cowboys can get Schoonmaker going as a receiving threat, this offense will find a new gear.
LT Tyron Smith - 85.4
One reason why the Panthers defense was able to limit this offense was their ability to generate pressure, getting in Prescott’s face on a third of his dropbacks. But Tyron Smith was on fire Sunday, yielding just one pressure all day despite a very creative and aggressive pass rush. He also put in work as a blocker in space on running plays, finishing with the team lead in run blocking grade.
QB Dak Prescott - 82.4
It may not have felt like it, but Dak Prescott had a very good game. He was dealing with a lot of pressure and very little open space to throw to; 21.1% of his passes were thrown into tight windows, the fourth-highest rate in Week 11. Despite this, Prescott threw two touchdowns with one big time throw and zero turnovers or turnover worthy plays. It wasn’t the stat sheet stuffer game Prescott has been putting up lately, but he took what little the defense was giving and didn’t force anything.
LG Tyler Smith - 78.5
For as great as Tyron Smith was in this game, Tyler Smith was just as good. The elder Smith drew a harder challenge as the left tackle, but both linemen answered the call. The younger Smith also gave up just one pressure on the day and finished a hair behind his left tackle in run blocking grade. Let this be a reminder of how good the left side of this line is.
WR Michael Gallup - 75.9
Michael Gallup has quietly put together three strong performances the last three weeks, and this week he ended up with the highest grade for a receiver. He caught three of his four targets for 31 yards, with two catches moving the chains. And while Gallup didn’t have any contested catches this week, he’s caught all three of his contested targets the last three weeks after having previously caught just two of 13 on the year.
Defense dominates again
Outside of one drive that lasted 17 plays and consisted of three fourth-down conversions and a running into the kicker penalty, the Dallas defense smothered this much-maligned Panthers offense. There were quite a few impressive performances on this side of the ball.
EDGE Micah Parsons - 94.5
Micah Parsons was seen vomiting on the sidelines, which he later explained was the result of trying a new energy powder before the game that didn’t sit well with him. Despite the nasty side effects, Parsons dominated the Panthers all day, finishing with nine pressures and 2.5 sacks. Perhaps he should take that energy powder before all his games,
CB DaRon Bland - 91.6
DaRon Bland officially entered his name into the debate for Defensive Player of the Year after notching his fourth pick six on the year and sixth interception total. Beyond just the pick six, Bland allowed just one completion on four targets, and he’s been playing lights out football all year.
EDGE DeMarcus Lawrence - 88.7
DeMarcus Lawrence had a relatively quiet day for his standards, but he still played great football. He had two pressures on the day, including a big sack, and also finished with the highest run defense grade on the team.
LB Damone Clark - 80.4
Damone Clark has generally struggled in coverage this season, as he’s a much better run defender than pass defender, but he stepped up against the Panthers. Clark gave up two completions on four targets, with both completions coming up short of the first down. He also broke up one pass, capping off a very impressive performance in coverage for the linebacker.
S Donovan Wilson - 75.1
One of the few things this defense has been missing was the version of Donovan Wilson that showed up Sunday. He was all over the field, breaking up a pass on his lone target of the day and coming away with a pressure on his one blitz. He also recovered a fumble from Bryce Young. Wilson got off to a slow start this year with the injury he sustained in training camp, but if he’s rounding into form right now that would be a huge boon for a defense that’s already dominating.