Saturday, December 22, 2007

Dallas improves to 13-2 with 20-13 win at Carolina.

It wasn’t sealed until Marion Barber’s 11-yard run inside the final two minutes, but Dallas has their 13th win of the season by a count of 20-13 over the Carolina Panthers.

Barber ran for 110 yards, the second-highest total of his career behind a 127-yard game against Arizona in his rookie year, and Dallas needed all of those yards tonight, especially at the end.

Tony Romo bounced back well from Sunday's nightmare game against Philadelphia and finished 28 of 42 for 257 yards, with one touchdown and one interception, and broke Danny White’s single-season team record of 3,980 yards (it now stands at 4,125).

Give credit to the Panthers for staying in it even though the Cowboys should have had it sewn up well before the end. Matt Moore certainly has the tools to be a success as a starter in the NFL, as he’s shown in his first two starts - it wouldn’t have taken long for him to be the backup in Dallas, but he’s much better off in Carolina - and he nearly came back to haunt his old team.

But, the defense certainly didn’t take it easy on Moore, sacking him five times, with DeMarcus Ware upping his total to a career-high 13 with two sacks and Greg Ellis adding one to his total, which is now at 12.5 for the season. The key plays for the defense were keeping the Panthers out of the end zone both times in the second half when they had a chance to cut into the Cowboys’ lead.

Judging by the statistics, it was a dominating performance by the Cowboys, even though the scoreboard indicates otherwise - 405 to 216 in total yards, 25 to 12 in first downs, 39:00 to 21:00 in time of possession.

That dominance could have translated on the scoreboard if not for a few missed opportunities for Dallas, but in the end, it’s not about the opportunities you miss, but the ones that you convert, and the important thing is that the Cowboys converted more than the Panthers, and thusly, Dallas is a Packers loss (or a win at Washington next week, if the Packers beat Chicago tomorrow) away from having home-field advantage in the NFC, while 6-9 Carolina is eliminated from playoff contention.

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