CHARLOTTE, NC (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – Things deteriorated for the Panthers in the 3rd quarter and the Cowboys ground game shined as Carolina suffered its first loss of the season, 36-28, Sunday in Arlington.
The Panthers held a 14-13 lead over Dallas at AT&T Stadium at halftime thanks to a pair of rushing touchdowns from their quarterback.
The Cowboys struck first on a 1-yard touchdown run from Pro Bowl running back Ezekiel Elliott 4 minutes into the first quarter to take a 7-0 lead.
The Panthers quickly responded on the next series with a 1-yard rush by Sam Darnold tying the game at 7-7.
Dallas (3-1) regained the lead 13-7 in the second quarter when Blake Jarwin caught an 18-yard pass from Dak Prescott. The Cowboys unsuccessfully tried to go for a 2-point conversion.
The Panthers (3-1) again would respond and it would be Darnold again rushing for a touchdown, this time from 11 yards out, putting Carolina ahead 14-13. That would be the score at the half.
Things would deteriorate in the 3rd quarter for the Panthers.
On the first drive to start the second half, kicker Zane Gonzalez missed a 54-yarder that would have expanded the Panthers’ lead. The Cowboys roof was closed so the wind was not a factor.
Amari Cooper would respond connecting with Prescott on the following drive for a 35-yard catch and the score, as the lead see-sawed back and forth.
Darnold went into the medical tent after taking a big hit midway through the 3rd quarter. He exited the tent a few minutes later, only to watch Prescott connect with Dalton Schultz for the score and the Panthers promptly took a 26-14 lead. The Panthers would later say Darnold went into the tent to change shirts.
Prescott would throw his 4th TD pass, this time to Cedrick Wilson, and the Cowboys took a cushy lead into the 4th, 33-14.
In the 4th quarter, Darnold would connect with DJ Moore twice to pull the Panthers within reach, but Dallas would hold on, improving to 3-1 on the season. Elliott led Dallas with 143 yards rushing and 1 TD.
Darnold finished with 301 passing yards and 2 TDs. In CMC’s absence, Chuba Hubbard ran for 57 yards while Moore led the team with 2 TDs and 113 yards catching. Carolina did not turn the ball over.
Despite being injured, Christian McCaffrey traveled with the team and watched from the sidelines.
The Panthers return to action next week against the Eagles (1-3) at Bank of America Stadium (1 pm, Fox 46 Charlotte).