The Carolina Panthers used the national Thanksgiving Day stage to destroy the Dallas Cowboys 33-14. The Panthers used a swarming defense and wounded pride to prove they are the frontrunners in the Race to Super Bowl L. Not only is Carolina getting attention for the heroics of Cam Newton, they’re gaining respect for an edgy and outspoken defense.
Days before the game, the Cowboys were favorites over the Panthers because of their win over the Dolphins. But as the game progressed, it was easy to spot the better team. The Panthers defense attacked with a fierce determination and were relentless the entire game. Dallas quarterback Tony Romo was the recipient of the Panthers’ anger. He was harassed and hurried every snap.
The Panthers’ defense wasn’t satisfied with making Romo look bad. The Black and Blue knocked the aging signal-caller out of the game. Late in the third quarter, Thomas Davis landed on top of Romo, driving the quarterback’s shoulder into the artificial turf. Up to that point, Romo was having a miserable game, with two of his three interceptions returned for touchdowns in the first half.
Making Romo’s day horrible seemed to be the Panthers’ goal. Romo finished the day 11-of-21 for 106 yards. His passer rating of 27.2 was just as horrendous as his QBR of 3.0. While X-rays on Romo’s reinjured left collarbone were inconclusive Thursday, the Cowboys have planned more tests for Friday. The beating he took from the Panthers was so severe that Romo may be done for the season, per ESPN.
The Panthers’ defense is hungry for respect. After the total humiliation of the Cowboys — in front of a national audience — the recognition should finally come.
Cornerback Josh Norman is tired of the disrespect. The Cowboys were not taking the Panthers seriously, and that’s something he won’t tolerate. During warm-ups, other members of the Panthers’ defense informed Norman about what was being said.
“The disrespect was just through the roof.”
After getting the news from the other players, Norman took the challenge to heart. He geared up mentally and took the verbal beef to the next level. He effectively shut down Dez Bryant when he defended against him. Bryant had one catch for six yards. The Pro Bowl receiver caught only two passes in eight targets for 28 yards.
The disrespect brought out the dark side of Norman. That was a serious plus for a Panthers team struggling to gain notoriety for being undefeated. Even at 11-0, the Panthers were still picked to lose to the Cowboys. The exchanges were fierce throughout the game. One argument between Bryant and Norman may have allowed the Panthers to score on a pick-six.
On the Romo interception, Bryant was caught by cameras yakking at Norman instead of staying with the play and trying to stop Kurt Coleman from scoring a touchdown.
As reported by the Dallas Morning News, Norman had a few choice words to say after the game. As he was walking into the locker room, the Panthers’ cornerback wasn’t shy about his feelings towards Bryant and the lack of respect.
“Hey, they need to get Dez’s 70 mil back.”
In just his second game since returning from the broken collarbone, Romo had no answers for a ball-hawking Panthers’ defense that made his most potent offensive weapon, Bryant, a virtual non-factor. Norman shadowed him as much as possible.
Getting amped up for the Panthers seems to be a problem for teams. The Panthers lead the league in takeaways. They rank fourth in total defense and first in interceptions. Why is that a problem? They rank high in confidence. Any signs of disrespect will only fuel the NFC’s best defense as they surge toward the playoffs.
[Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images]