The Carolina Panthers took down the Dallas Cowboys in the second of three Thanksgiving games on Thursday, winning 33-14. Tony Romo threw three interceptions for the struggling Cowboys, while Cam Newton played well against an aggressive Dallas defense.
Romo was injured late in the third quarter and had to leave the game. He sustained an injury to the same spot on his collarbone that was fractured in Week 2. Romo missed seven games with the injury and his future for this season has to be in doubt. Matt Cassel replaced Romo and played well, but he was several scores down when the fourth quarter started. Cassel finished with 93 yards and a touchdown while playing just the fourth quarter.
Newton finished with 183 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions through the air. He did rush 12 times for 45 yards and a touchdown. Jonathan Stewart had 68 rush yards for the Panthers. The Cowboys did not get anything done on the ground, rushing for just 31 yards total.
It was a disastrous first half for Romo. The quarterback completed just 8 of 17 passes for 82 yards in the first half. He threw no touchdowns and was not sacked, but he tossed three interceptions, one of which went to Kurt Coleman, and the other two of which went to linebacker Luke Kuechly. Coleman's and one of Kuechly's picks were returned for touchdowns.
Kuechly's second pick came on the very next drive. It was Kuechly's first career two-interception game, and also his first career touchdown. Newton led the Panthers on three field-goal drives, including one as time expired in the first half. Coleman's 36-yard interception return for a touchdown came on the first drive of the game.
The Panthers now move to 11-0, virtually guaranteed a top spot in the NFC playoffs. It's a drastic turnaround from last season, when they won the NFC South with a 7-8-1 record. The Panthers do not have a difficult schedule going forward. They play the New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers again, teams they have already beat once. They also play the Atlanta Falcons twice, and those are probably the toughest games remaining.
Carolina will travel to New Orleans to take on the Saints in Week 13. The Cowboys have fallen to 3-8 and can only finish 8-8 at best. They will take on Washington in their next game. It's the first of two games against Washington this season.