By: Jay Betsill
“Candidly, the win, to get out on the upper end of that score, was beautiful to me,” Jerry Jones said after the Dallas Cowboys 19-14 victory on the road against the Carolina Panthers. “There wasn’t one thing ugly about it to me.”
Tony Romo threw for 227 yards and a touchdown and Dan Bailey had four field goals as the Cowboys defeated the Panthers for the ninth straight time in the regular season and snapped their two-game losing streak. Tailbacks Felix Jones and Phillip Tanner combined for only 74 yards on 28 carries. Jones was ineffective in the second half, when he gained only eight yards on seven carries.
“You know that every week you’re either great or terrible — or at least semi-terrible or semi-great,” Romo said. “What you find in this league is all you need to do is figure out how to get better and play your best football when it counts.”
Rob Ryan’s defense played well, holding the Panthers to 112 yards rushing that included several scrambles by Panthers quarterback Cam Newton. Tailback Jonathan Stewart rushed for 35 yards on 10 carries, including one on a 20-yard gain. In his return from a strained pectoral, linebacker Anthony Spencer had six tackles.
“When you think about some of the adversity we’ve encountered this season, our focus remains on just getting better,” said Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware. “We have been doing that, and this week being able to go out and close a game let us know that hey, we can do it.”
The Cowboys committed penalties on the first three special teams plays, but nothing that they could not recover from as in early instances this season. Kicker Dan Bailey bounced back from missing the potential game-winner last week against the Baltimore Ravens, going 4-of-4 on field goals. Punter Brian Moorman had a net average of 49.3 yards on four punts that included two inside the 20 yard line.
The Cowboys will host the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants next week. The Giants are 3-0 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington and coming to town fresh off a comeback victory over the Washington Redskins. The winning drive was the 22nd of Eli Manning’s career in either the fourth quarter or overtime, his second this season and eighth over the past two seasons. Manning’s 77-yard pass to Victor Cruz with 1:13 to play gave New York a 27-23 lead and overcame a late touchdown pass by Redskins rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III.
MORRIS CLAIBORNE GETS A PICK
The Cowboys secondary hadn’t had an interception since Orlando Scandrick’s in the fourth quarter of the Nov. 20 win against the Redskins. That streak came to an end Sunday in Charlotte when rookie cornerback Morris Claiborne picked off Cam Newton to end the Panthers’ 74-yard drive.
During the Dallas defensive back’s dry spell, linebacker Sean Lee had the Cowboys only interception.
PHIL COSTA INJURED
Cowboys center Phil Costa was carted off the field in the second quarter with his right leg in an air cast. Costa has a severely sprained right ankle with a partial dislocation and Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said there is no timetable for his return. Ryan Cook replaced him in the lineup. Cook, who had a hamstring injury the last two weeks, was a game-time decision to play had not practiced all week.
“It looked very severe to me from where I was sitting, and when they bring the cart out and they immobilize it all of those things,” Garrett said. “He’s a tough kid. When he came inside, it still looks like a pretty significant injury. We’ll monitor it day-to-day, but it looked really severe when it first happened.”