Carolina Panthers

Carolina Panthers report card: A-plus for defensive line at head of class

Carolina Panthers defensive tackle Kawann Short and the Panthers’ defensive line received the highest grade of the game on Sunday night, in a 16-8 win against Dallas.
Carolina Panthers defensive tackle Kawann Short and the Panthers’ defensive line received the highest grade of the game on Sunday night, in a 16-8 win against Dallas. dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Grading the Carolina Panthers for Sunday’s 16-8 victory against Dallas:

B+ Quarterback: Quarterback Cam Newton had a stellar game on the ground, with rushing 58 yards and a touchdown. Newton led both teams in rushing through the first three quarters with 64 yards.

He was under heavy pressure several times throughout the game, but made good decisions and played consistently in the passing game despite that, finishing 17 of 26 for 161 yards with no touchdowns.

B Running backs: Christian McCaffrey fumbled the ball at the 5-yard line in the first quarter, but had a solid game after that. He rushed for 50 yards on 10 attempts and was used heavily in the passing game, catching six balls for 45 yards. Fullback Alex Armah scored his first NFL touchdown on a 1-yard carry set up by C.J. Anderson.

B Receivers: Devin Funchess caught three clutch passes, two of which were in heavy traffic, for a total of 41 yards. Jarius Wright converted an impressive first down by running for several yards after a catch. He fumbled, but recovered the ball.

C- Offensive line: The Panthers offensive line gave up three sacks and four quarterback hurries. Daryl Williams, who left the game with a knee injury, got beat by DeMarcus Lawrence twice. Second-year left tackle Taylor Moton played well in his first NFL start, but he got called for a chop block late in the game.

A+ Defensive line: Carolina’s defensive line sacked Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott six times and had 10 quarterback hurries. They also held prolific running back Ezekiel Elliott to just 69 yards and a touchdown. Defensive end Mario Addison’s strip-sack sealed the game in Carolina’s favor.

A Linebackers: Carolina’s linebackers played fast and swarmed to the ball as the Cowboys attempted to get Elliott into space. Shaq Thompson played well in place of veteran Thomas Davis, and had a sack. David Mayo combined for a tackle for loss on the Cowboys’ first run, setting the tone.

B Secondary: Prescott didn’t attempt very many passes through the first three quarters, but the Panthers’ secondary’s coverage helped complement the pass rush and assisted in keeping the Cowboys behind midfield through the first half.

B Special teams: Receiver Damiere Byrd was excellent on punt return and had a 30-yard long, but had to leave the game with a knee injury. D.J. Moore filled in for Byrd, and was an excellent gunner. A snap was botched late in the game, but as it turns out, it had bounced off of guard/tackle Amini Silatolu’s leg.

B+ Coaching: Turner called a good, versatile game that offered a lot of different looks to the Dallas defense but needs to avoid lulls, especially in the red zone. Washington’s first real game as a defensive coordinator could hardly have gone much better, as the Cowboys didn’t even get past midfield in the first half. There was a miscommunication late in the half in which the team could have likely gotten the ball snapped for a final play, but spiked the ball to settle for a field goal.

Jourdan Rodrigue: 704-358-5071; @jourdanrodrigue
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