Panthers Win With Takeaways
The biggest takeaway from this game was the ability of the Panthers' defense to force turnovers and turn them into points. The team wasted no time in this department as Kurt Coleman was able to intercept Tony Romo in the opening minute and return it for the first touchdown of the game. This was Coleman's third straight game with an interception and he is now tied for the NFL lead in that department with three other players.
The defense then forced two more turnovers at the end of the first half, both by Luke Kuechly, on back to back plays. The middle linebacker intercepted Romo and returned it for his first career touchdown and then on the next play ran with Jason Witten in coverage and grabbed another interception. This was also his first career game with two interceptions.
The Panthers won by a large margin thanks to the suffocating defense but these two touchdowns put the game out of reach early. The Panthers' offense was struggling to finish drives off with touchdowns and instead had to settle for field goals and the game could have looked much different if it was 9-3 at halftime instead of 23-3.
Michael Oher Has Another Strong Game
One of the underlying storylines entering this game was the fact that Greg Hardy would be going up against his former team and was sure to be motivated to have an impact on the game. The responsibility to stop him was going to fall primarily on the shoulders of Michael Oher and it was clear that he was ready for the challenge today.
Anybody who watched the game today, wouldn't even realize that Hardy played today. He was kept off the stat sheet entirely with no sacks, no QB hits and no tackles. The Panthers' left tackle played exceptionally against Hardy in keeping him away from Cam Newton.
While Oher hasn't been perfect this year, he is the worst offensive tackle in run blocking according to Pro Football Focus, he has been excellent in pass protection. This is something the offense was missing last year and Oher has filled in nicely.
Cam Newton Efficient Against Cowboys
This is not a game that is going to win Cam Newton Offensive Player of the Week like last week's five touchdown game against the Washington Redskins but it was still an impressive game. Newton finished the game completing 59% of his passes for 183 yards, with 46 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown.
The stat that is most important though is that he did not have any turnovers and he has now not thrown an interception in three straight games. The fact that he is able to protect the ball as well as he has will go a long way to the success of this team later in the year and in the playoffs.
The other thing that was impressive about this game was how well Newton is able to move the ball around, throwing to seven different wide receivers and completing passes to five of them. This is going to make it more difficult for defenses to key into what the Panthers do in the passing game.
Newton looks incredibly comfortable in this offense and does a good job of not forcing anything and making the right decision. The offensive line has certainly helped with this as their improved play has given Newton time in the pocket to make the right read.