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Nov 16, 2012 8:18pm
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CHARLOTTE, N. Willis McGahee Jersey .C. —Tony Romo found
a way to win a close game, something Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers are
still trying to learn. Romo led the Cowboys into field-goal range and Dan Bailey
converted a 28-yarder with 3:25 remaining to lift the Dallas Cowboys to a 19-14
win on Sunday. Bailey had four field goals and Romo threw for 227 yards and a
touchdown as the Cowboys defeated the Panthers for the ninth straight time in
the regular season. The win snapped a two-game losing streak for the Cowboys
(3-3) and helped ease some pressure from their highly criticized 31-29 loss to
Baltimore last week in a game marred by poor clock management. “When you think
about some of the adversity weve encountered this season, our focus remains on
just getting better,” said Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Ware. “We have been
doing that, and this week being able to go out and close a game let us know that
hey, we can do it.” Romo said the Cowboys never bought into the idea that the
sky was falling after last weeks loss. “You know that every week youre either
great or terrible—or at least semi-terrible or semi-great,” Romo said. “What
you find in this league is all you need to do is figure out how to get better
and play your best football when it counts.” Just in case everyone wasnt buying
in, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett invited former Washington Redskins coach Joe
Gibbs—yes, their old rival—to speak to players at the teams chapel service
Saturday night. Gibbs message was that everyone makes mistakes, but whats
important is how you handle adversity. The Cowboys seemed to listen. “We did a
good job of bouncing back and finding a way to win a game today,” Garrett said.
For the Panthers (1-5) it was a case of another game in which they were close
enough to win in the fourth quarter but couldnt finish. Carolina had similar
chances in their two previous games against Atlanta and Seattle. Newton, who
finished 21 of 37 for 233 yards with one touchdown and an early interception in
the red zone, said he doesnt know why the Panthers cant win close games.
“Whether its me, I dont know. Whether its the co-ordinator, I dont know. Whether
its the players overall, I dont know,” Newton said. “(But) we got to change that
man.” The Panthers finished fifth in points last season, averaging 25.3 points
per game, but have scored more than 14 points in only two of their six games
this year. “Instead of keeping the game close, Im looking forward to a game
where I … we put up 35 points. Everybody does,” Newton said. This game had its
share of drama—and controversy. On a fourth-and-1 at their 39 with 2:11
remaining and trailing by one, the Panthers caught Dallas defence trying to
change personnel, and Newton rushed to the line. He quickly took the snap and
completed a pass to Greg Olsen for an apparent first down, but officials ruled
the Cowboys called timeout before the snap. On the next play, cornerback
Morris Claiborne collided with Panthers receiver Louis Murphy before the ball
arrived, but no flag was thrown and the Cowboys took over on downs. “I felt like
I got pushed early,” Murphy said. “He kind of hooked me and pushed me in the
back before the ball got there.” Claiborne saw it differently. “I felt I had
good coverage,” he said. The Cowboys took over and ran more time off the clock,
but on third-and-4 at the Carolina 18, running back Phillip Tanner lost 2 yards.
Bailey added his fourth field goal—a 38-yarder—with 53 seconds left.
Garrett said he made the decision to run the ball because he was confident his
defence, ranked second in the league, could hold the Panthers. “We trust our
defence immensely,” Garrett said. “Our defence is outstanding and theyve played
great all year long.” Romo didnt disagree with the call. “You weigh what
coverages theyve been playing throughout the day,” Romo said. “You also look at
how well your defence has played throughout the day. ... Its very hard to be in
their position, 53 seconds left, and you need a touchdown.” With no timeouts
left, the Panthers werent able to get past midfield on their final possession.
“We missed an opportunity,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. “It kind of
epitomizes what has happened” this season. The Panthers came in looking to
establish their running game and started Jonathan Stewart at running back
instead of DeAngelo Williams. Stewart was limited to 35 yards on 10 carries and
Williams only carried twice for 4 yards. Newton was the teams leading rusher
with 64 yards on six carries, most of those coming off scrambles rather than
designed runs. NOTES: Cowboys WR Dez Bryant started despite a groin injury. On
Bryants first play he was penalized for unnecessary roughness after shoving
Panthers players following a punt return. ... Cowboys C Phil Costa was carted
off the field in the second quarter with his right leg in an air cast. ... The
Panthers were without LB Jon Beason and CB Chris Gamble, while the Cowboys
played without RB DeMarco Murray. Eric Decker Youth Jersey . “Its been
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