There wasn’t much anticipated suspense when Dallas played the one-win Carolina Panthers. The game followed a familiar script in the 33-10 blowout win for the Cowboys.
In games against sub-par opponents, the Cowboys get out to a lead and the defense finishes things off in spectacular fashion. That’s exactly how it played out in Week 11. The offense was efficient in putting the team up double digits, and then Dan Quinn’s unit put the game on ice with three sacks and a Pick-6 in the fourth quarter.
It might not have been as easy as the scoreboard read in the end, but the outcome never felt in danger for the Cowboys, despite the Panthers pulling within one score in the third quarter. There is just too much talent on the Cowboys’ sideline, and they got great performances from their best players.
Here are the studs and duds in their sixth win by 20 points or more on the season.
Stud: Micah Parsons
Last week the defense had five sacks, but the elite edge rusher wasn’t invited to the party. Being shutout in that game led to some ridiculous questions about Parsons slowing down in the middle of the season.
It took one defensive series for Parsons to make his presence known in the win. With the Panthers driving into Cowboys territory, they were facing a 3rd-and-6. Parsons ended the scoring threat with a sack that pushed the offense out of field goal range.
They told me I was slowing down…Ite bet! 🤐✍️🤫
— Micah Parsons (@MicahhParsons11) November 19, 2023
On the next Carolina possession, Parsons ended another drive with his second sack. Parsons would add another half-sack to finish the game with 2.5 in the game, tying a career high.
It was a monster effort for Parsons, who let it be known he’s not slowing down.
Stud: Tony Pollard
It had been 10 weeks since the starting running back for the Cowboys had found paydirt, but he ended that streak in Week 11. In the win, Pollard scored on a 21-yard run that was reminiscent of his scoring runs over the last few seasons.
On the touchdown, Pollard quickly found the hole, ran through an arm tackle, and then powered his way through two defenders and reached over the end zone. The speed to burst into the secondary and then finishing off the run was something that Pollard had been missing in recent weeks.
Pollard also had 61 yards on just 12 carries, averaging over five yards a carry, both numbers he had failed to reach since Week 3. In the win, Pollard had two runs over 20 yards and only some odd play calls that saw him lose 18 yards slowed him down.
It was one of Pollard’s best games of the year.
Dud: Jourdan Lewis
It was a rough day for the slot cornerback, who was beaten multiple times by the Panthers’ best receiving option. Lewis was eaten up by veteran WR Adam Thielen three times on the Panthers’ only two scoring drives, one of which included a fourth-down completion.
Facing a 4th-and-2 on their own 49-yard line in the third quarter, the Panthers went for it and attacked Lewis with Thielen. Rookie quarterback Bryce Young rolled right and found a wide open Thielen, who had burned Lewis for a 16-yard gain.
On a day where the pass defense was strong for the Cowboys, Lewis struggled.
Stud: DaRon Bland
Bland was a star again with his sticky coverage and providing the play of the game for the Dallas defense. At some point, QBs should be rethinking throwing in Bland’s direction because his Pick-6 was a ridiculous play.
After the Cowboys’ offense responded to the Panthers closing to one score, it was about the time where the defense usually shuts the door. Bland slammed it shut with his best interception and score on his historic season.
On their first offensive play after going down 24-10, the Panthers threw at Bland, who was trailing the receiver. he caught up with his speed, undercut the throw, dove to pick it off, got up and went 30 yards for the touchdown.
The score put the Cowboys up 20 points; Bland called ball, game, parking.
It was Bland’s sixth interception on the year, and his fourth Pick-6, which ties an NFL record for a season.
— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) November 19, 2023
Another game, another game-breaking play from Bland, the league’s new pick-six king. The second-year CB now has seven games to break the NFL record, and if offenses keep testing him, there’s a good shot that Bland sets the new mark.
Duds: Run defense
While the Dallas defense allowed only 187 total yards, 110 of that came on the ground. The Panthers found success running the ball and both of their RBs had over 50 yards while averaging over 4.5 yards a carry.
The Panthers struggled to move the ball, but when they did, their rushing attack was responsible for setting the offense up in advantageous down and distances. Most of their rushing yards came in just three quarters before they were forced to throw to play catchup, which plays into the strength of the Dallas defense.
It’s been one of the weaknesses in the last few years and the Cowboys found themselves having issues slowing down the Panthers’ run game in the win.