The setup: Panthers’ ball, second-and-goal from the 6, 7:38 remaining in second quarter.
What happened: Taking the shotgun snap, Newton was looking to wideout Louis Murphy, who had a step on his defender. But Newton was hit as he threw, and the ball floated to cornerback Morris Claiborne, who made the interception in the end zone.
Why it mattered: After driving nearly 75 yards, Newton had the Panthers in position for a field goal at a minimum. Instead, they got nothing in a game where points were at a premium.
The setup: Cowboys facing a second-and-10 from the Panthers’ 48, 4:27 left in the second quarter.
What happened: Tony Romo completed a 15-yard pass to Miles Austin. LB Thomas Davis hit Austin from behind and stripped the ball. LB Luke Kuechly recovered, and Panthers took over at their 20.
Why it mattered: It was the first turnover for Dallas, which entered the game near the bottom of the league in turnover margin. The Cowboys would have been in field goal range had Austin held on.
Austin’s big conversion
The setup: Cowboys facing a third-and-9 from their 38, 8:28 left in the third quarter.
What happened: Romo, with good protection, fired a strike down the middle of the field to Austin, gaining 36 yards to the Panthers’ 26.
Why it mattered: On the next play, Romo looked again to Austin, who beat CB Josh Norman down the left sideline. Romo threw a perfect pass, hitting Austin for the touchdown to put the Cowboys up 10-7.
Cowboys’ defensive holding call
The setup: Panthers’ ball, third-and-goal at the 5, 11:49 remaining in the fourth quarter.
What happened: Newton threw incomplete in the end zone on a pass intended for TE Greg Olsen. But CB Brandon Carr grabbed the back of Steve Smith’s jersey and was called for holding, giving the Panthers a first down at the 2.
Why it mattered: Newton had thrown incomplete on first and second down, and the Panthers likely would have settled for a field goal. Instead, on the play following the Carr penalty, fullback Mike Tolbert bulled in for a 2-yard touchdown run that gave Carolina a 14-13 lead.
The fourth-down throw to Murphy
The setup: Panthers facing a fourth-and-1 from their 40, 2:11 left in the fourth quarter.
What happened: Newton threw incomplete to the right side for Murphy. Claiborne appeared to hit Murphy before the ball arrived, but no penalty was called.
Why it mattered: The Panthers thought they already had converted on fourth down when Newton hit Olsen for first-down yardage. But the officials gave the Cowboys a timeout, so the play was wiped out. After the incompletion to Murphy, the Cowboys added a field goal that sealed it.