Newton, defense lead Panthers past Cowboys 16-8
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Cam Newton ran for 58 yards and a touchdown, and Carolina's defense turned in a dominating performance as the Panthers defeated the Dallas Cowboys 16-8 in the season opener Sunday.
Luke Kuechly had 13 tackles, Kawann Short sacked Dak Prescott twice and Mario Addison had a huge strip-sack of the Cowboys quarterback with 1:23 left to seal the victory.
Carolina's defense had six sacks in all and limited the Cowboys to 232 yards.
The Cowboys, who are looking for answers on offense following the departures of Dez Bryant and Jason Witten, couldn't do much against a stingy Carolina defense in the first half. The Panthers limited the Cowboys to 60 yards and four first downs to take a 10-0 lead into the locker room.
Prescott finished with just 170 yards passing and Ezekiel Elliott was held to 69 yards rushing and a touchdown. Dallas' leading receiver was Cole Beasley, who had seven catches for 73 yards.
The Panthers seemed in complete control when fullback Alex Armah scored on a 1-yard run early in the fourth quarter to make it 16-0. But Carolina botched the extra point, keeping it a two-possession game and turning the momentum to the Cowboys.
Elliott scored on a 4-yard touchdown run on the next drive and Prescott added the 2-point conversion to cut the lead in half. But Dallas' final drive ended when Addison — who had 11 sacks last season — stripped Prescott of the ball and Captain Munnerlyn recovered.
CHANGING TIMES: For the first time in franchise history, the Panthers painted their team logo at midfield.
New owner David Tepper made the decision after purchasing the team from Jerry Richardson in July. The Panthers have always had the NFL "shield" at midfield — per Richardson's orders — since coming into the league as an expansion franchise in 1995.
GETTING HIS KICKS: Brett Maher, who replaced Dan Bailey — the second-most accurate kicker in NFL history — missed a 47-yard field goal in his first career attempt.
Cowboys: Defensive end Randy Gregory suffered a concussion in the first half and did not return.
Panthers: Tight end Greg Olsen left in the first half with a foot injury and did not return. He was on the sideline in the second half on crutches with his right foot in the boot. It's the same foot Olsen broke last season. Coach Ron Rivera said Olsen didn't suffer the same injury, but offered no other updates. ... Second-team All-Pro right tackle Daryl Williams went down with a knee injury in the fourth quarter and was carted off the field. ... Linebacker Luke Kuechly injured his left knee in the fourth quarter but returned to the game.
Cowboys: Host the Giants on Sunday night.
Panthers: Visit the Falcons on Sunday.
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