|Carolina Panthers do basics right in beating Cowboys 16-8|
|Defense produces 6 sacks, offense steady in opener|
|Published Sunday, September 9, 2018 9:00 pm|
The Carolina Panthers’ defense is still for real.
The Panthers limited Dallas to 232 yards offense and sacked Dak Prescott six times in a 16-8 season-opening win at Bank of America Stadium. Although Carolina’s offense wasn’t exactly electric – the Panthers gained 293 yards – they did more than enough to keep the Cowboys off-balance. Cam Newton hit 17-of-26 passes for 161 yards and ran for another 58 on 13 carries and a score to lead the offense. The Panthers outgained Dallas 147 yards to 94.
Defensively, Carolina managed to contain Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott, who finished with 59 yards and a score on 15 carries. They were especially good at rushing Prescott, who completed 19-of-29 passes for 170 yards. Kawann Short produced a team-high two sacks while Wes Horton and Mario Addison tallied 1.5 each.
Upon further review
What went right: Newton looked comfortable in Norv Turner’s first game as offensive coordinator. Newton’s running ability adds another dimension, and most important, made good decisions in the pocket, hitting 17-of-26 passes for 161 yards.
What went wrong: Christian McCaffrey’s first-half fumble inside Dallas’ 10 killed a potential drive. Losing right tackle Daryl Williams (knee) and tight end Greg Olsen (foot) could be pivotal injuries.
What needs work: Ball security. Carolina fumbled twice, losing one.
What went right: Carolina bottled up Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott, which went a long way in limiting the Cowboys’ opportunities on offense. Captain Munnerlyn’s fumble recovery after a strip sack of Prescott on Dallas’ final possession was a fitting end.
What went wrong: Dallas’ 10-play, 75-yard drive, resulting in Elliott’s 4-yard touchdown run cut the Panthers’ lead in half.
What needs work: It’s hard to argue with eight points allowed.
What went right: Mike Palardy averaged 47.8 yards per punt on six kicks, with three landing inside the 20. His punting forced Dallas into poor field position, which helped the defense.
What went wrong: Palardy mishandled the snap on a failed extra point, opening the door to a potential game-tying touchdown in the fourth quarter.
What needs work: Damiere Byrd was tantalizingly close to breaking a punt return that wound up going for 30 yards.
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