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Cowboys 36, Panthers 28: Top 10 Whitty Observations

Dallas abused Carolina's No. 1-ranked defense for 433 yards and 4 TD passes

With a 36-28 win at AT&T Stadium on Sunday, the Dallas Cowboys improve to 3-1 with an impressive performance over previously undefeated Carolina ... 

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10. FLAWLESS FORMULA - The Cowboys improved to 27-0 under Dak Prescott when they run more than pass. Pretty simple. Against the Panthers the quarterback threw only 22 times (for four touchdowns) and handed-off 34 times, with Ezekiel Elliott carrying 20 times for 143 yards.

9. SPYING SAM - Gotta admit, we didn't suggest the Cowboys should have a spy on Panthers' quarterback Sam Darnold. But, sure enough, he fooled them on an option play and a 14-yard draw for two rushing touchdowns in the first half. The secret should be out - Darnold leads all NFL quarterbacks with five rushing touchdowns.

8. THREE-PEAT - Cowboys' tight end Dalton Schultz fumbled - but didn't fumble - on three plays that each necessitated replay review during the same drive in the second quarter. The first two were ruled non-fumbles. The third likewise wasn't a fumble, but Schultz was a smidge short of the goal line on a two-point conversion. He ran a 0-yard route on a play that required him to get one yard.

7. McCARTHY McANALYTICS - Apparently we're gonna do this every week. Coach Mike McCarthy continues to defy logic - and common sense - with his game management. First he went for a 4th-and-1 at Dallas' 46 in a scoreless game in the first quarter. Prescott picked it up on a scramble and it led to a touchdown. Fine, he won that gamble. But after the Cowboys' second touchdown the Panthers were called for a penalty. Instead of taking the extra point and 14-7 lead, McCarthy decided to accept the penalty - which moved the ball from the 2-yard line to the 1 - and attempt a two- point conversion. In the middle of the second quarter. Regardless of the result (it was no good), it was a bad decision. Because of that decision, it was one a one-score game with some nervous moments late in the game. Sooner or later, McCarthy's nonsensical decision is going to cost them a game.

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6. THAT'S AMARI - We thought Cowboys receiver Amari Cooper was done early as he limped off the field with looked like a pulled hamstring. But he played through the almost-injury, catching three key passes for a team-leading 69 yards.

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5. TERRIFIC THIRD - Dallas broke open a close game with one of their most impressive 15 minutes of football in the last couple of seasons. The Cowboys dodged a bullet when Carolina missed a field goal on its first third-quarter possession, then scored touchdowns the next three times they touched the ball to turn a 14-13 deficit into a 33-14 lead.

4. McCARTHY McHOODIE - If we're going to question the coach's strategy, might has well raise a curious eyebrow about his fashion. He wore a black hoodie with multi-colored confetti dashes more suitable for an EDM festival than an NFL sideline.

3. ZEKE FEEDING - The Panthers' No. 1-ranked defense entered having not allowed a running back more than 25 yards in a game. Ezekiel Elliott picked up 39 on Dallas' first two series and 143 for the game. His 47-yard scamper down the right sideline in the third quarter set up a 26-14 Cowboys lead and was his longest run since his rookie season.

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2. DIGGIN' IT - We made the comparison two weeks ago and now it's a national narrative: Trevon Diggs is the second coming of Everson Walls. The Cowboys' second-year cornerback made not one but two more interceptions against Carolina. He has one in each of the first four games and five this season. The Cowboys had only 13 as a team in 2020. The only other Cowboy to have five interceptions through four games is linebacker Chuck Howley in 1968. Considering Diggs' domination, hard to explain why he was on the sidelines the final two defensive series. Maybe a combo of a tight back and load management. 

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But shouldn't "load management" happen during the week and not the fourth quarter of a competitive game?

1. WOW OF A WEEK - In two home games at AT&T Stadium in six days, the Cowboys amassed 77 points, 813 yards yards and a 2-0 record. Not a bad little week.