Perfect Panthers 11-0, Romo hurt again in 33-14 Dallas loss
The Carolina defense returned two of Romo's three interceptions for touchdowns before the Dallas quarterback re-injured the collarbone that sidelined him for seven games and the Panthers pushed their NFL-best winning streak to 15 games in the regular season with a 33-14 victory in their Thanksgiving debut Thursday.
Newton had his team's only offensive touchdown on a 4-yard run, and Carolina became the 16th team to start a season 11-0. The dual-threat star showed off a new celebration after catching grief in recent weeks for doing ''the dab.''
''Yeah, you know, I've got diverse dancing ability,'' Newton said after throwing for 183 yards and running for another 45. ''I've got to switch it up sometimes. Back in the day, they used to do the twist.''
Romo and the Cowboys are just twisting in the wind again. The 35-year-old quarterback with a surgically repaired back wasn't sure if he broke his left collarbone again, just as he did nearly 10 weeks ago at Philadelphia. More tests were planned for Friday.
But the Cowboys (3-8) could be facing a season-ending stretch without him after losing all seven games in his absence. The defending NFC East champions were already headed to an eighth loss in nine games a week after Romo ended the skid in his return at Miami.
Luke Kuechly intercepted two straight passes by Romo late in the second quarter, returning the first 32 yards for a touchdown. Kurt Coleman picked off Romo's second pass of the game and took it back 36 yards for the opening score.
''I'm just very disappointed in not giving our team a chance to win today,'' said Romo, who was 11 of 21 with 106 yards and a 27.2 passer rating. ''They depend on me to go out there and perform at a certain level, and when I let them down, let our team down, our coaches, our fan base, everybody. That's what I did today, and I have to live with that.''
Things to consider after Romo threw multiple pick-6s for the fourth time in his career:
ROMO OUTLOOK: The four-time Pro Bowl player said the injury felt similar to the one in Philadelphia. Coach Jason Garrett said Romo would play if he was cleared even with the Cowboys unlikely to have a realistic shot to defend their division title.
On the second play for Dallas after Newton's score put Carolina up 30-6, Romo was hit by a blitzing Thomas Davis and went down much the same way he did in Philadelphia. He was replaced by Matt Cassel, who started four games in Romo's absence.
''It's in the same shoulder that he was out for ... so that is a concern from the standpoint of the games ahead,'' owner and general manager Jerry Jones said.
KUECHLY THE CAPTAIN: Carolina led 13-3 when Kuechly and the NFL's leading defense for takeaways put the Panthers firmly in control.
The league's top tackler since joining the NFL in 2012, Kuechly dropped into coverage and easily stepped in front of a pass intended for Terrance Williams before churning up the left sideline and pushing Romo away as he crossed the goal line.
On the next play, Kuechly made a nifty over-the-head catch on a ball thrown to Jason Witten. The linebacker looked a little winded on the return, eventually settling for a 17-yarder that led to the third of Graham Gano's four field goals to put the Panthers up 23-3 at halftime.
''In my eyes, he will always be Captain America because he makes every play,'' Newton said. ''He shows up. He prepares extremely well. That's what people really don't see about this whole team.''
QUIET HARDY REUNION: Dallas defensive end Greg Hardy had a quiet game against his former team, finishing without any tackles and missing most of the second half with an injury Garrett wouldn't specify. He missed the last 15 games last year with Carolina because of his domestic violence case. Hardy signed with the Cowboys as a free agent and served a four-game suspension to start this season.
MOVING THE CHAINS: Newton had five first-down completions on third-and-5 or longer, and three of them went for 24 yards. Jerricho Cotchery had four of the five catches, with one of the 24-yarders on third-and-17. Cotchery had a game-high 73 yards receiving.
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