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Cowboys 21 Panthers 7: Good, Bad And Ugly

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Cowboys 21 Panthers 7: Good, Bad And Ugly

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ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 28: Terence Newman #41 of the Dallas Cowboys celebrates with teammate Ken Hamlin #26 after returning an interception for a touchdown in the fourth quater against the Carolina Panthers at Cowboys Stadium on September 28, 2009 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Good

*At this time last year, the idea that Dallas could dominate in the running game that decisively with Marion Barber out of the lineup would have been scoffed at and derided. But alas, Tashard Choice and Felix Jones combined for Dallas' second consecutive 200 yard running performance; this is the first time the Cowboys have pulled off this feat since 1979.

* The drought is over. Mike Jenkins intercepted Jake Delhomme in the first half to end the turnover drought for Dallas. Jay Ratliff got to Delhomme in the third quarter for the team's first sack of 2009. From there, the floodgates opened, with Terence Newman intercepting Delhomme for a touchdown, and Victor Butler recording two sacks, one of which resulted in a fumble, in the fourth quarter.

*The run defense for Dallas was impressive again, a week after holding New York's Brandon Jacobs to 58 yards. The team surrendered 73 rushing yards to a running tandem widely considered one of the best in the league, and the unit was downright oppressive through most of the second half.

Bad

*Jason Garrett's play-calling. Well, it kind of sucked in instances, one of which I'll revisit later because, aside from being inexplicable, it was ugly. The rest, I'll leave to Drew.

* The secondary in the first half. Open field tackling was beyond sloppy, as Terence Newman (among others) seemed physically unable to wrap up and/or go low to stop a ball carrier; and Ken Hamlin was late in getting over to help Bradie James on the Dante Rosario catch that set up the Carolina touchdown.

*ESPN's coverage made clear their intentions to never drop the T.O. story. Two vignettes and no less than five references to the departed receiver later, Jon Gruden hinted that T.O. would've caught a ball dropped by Roy Williams. Only problem is, it was a hands-catch, and T.O. has hands like cinder blocks. Well that, and the fact that he plays in Buffalo, now.

Ugly

* Back to Garrett. On a drive that saw a second and goal from the one, Garrett forgot that our offensive line had been dominating the line of scrimmage, that our two healthy running backs were finding holes with a remarkable ease and that Carolina hadn't even hinted that they might be able to prove otherwise. Two fades to the corner of the endzone later, Nick Folk kicked a field goal and Cowboys fans pulled out clumps of their hair.

*Dallas was booed off the field at the half. This isn't to say it wasn't justified; in fact, I said yesterday that it was. But when the home fans boo their own team, it is nothing short of malaise, personified. And, considering that there we're 90,000 or so fans there last night, well, that's an awful lot of malaise.

*Felix Jones went down in the third quarter with what was called a strained knee. Besides the obvious, loathsome sense of deja vu in a Dallas running back hitting the turf after a long run, the news today wasn't much better. It's now said that Jones will need an MRI on the knee, meaning the injury may be more severe than a mere strain.

Related Topics Felix Jones, Tashard Choice
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