What Dallas defense would we rather have on the field? The defense from the first half of the Carolina game or the defense from the second half? It’s an easy choice if you watched the 21-7 victory over the Panthers on Monday night. It’s an even easier choice if you look at the numbers. The answer would be the Dallas defense from the second half.
The Cowboys held the Panthers scoreless for most of the first half except for a 90 yard touchdown drive in 8 plays for the Panthers that put them ahead 7-0 shortly before halftime. The defense did come up with their first interception of the season when Mike Jenkins out jumped Muhsin Muhammad. The secondary did a good job on Pro Bowl receiver Steve Smith limiting him to just 3 receptions for 23 yards with Terence Newman covering him and safety help most of the game. The Dallas defense did allow 160 yards of offense to the Panthers. Most of that coming on the touchdown drive. There were also many missed tackles during the first half which reminded me of what happened during the loss to the Giants.
The second half would be a completely different story for the Dallas defense. What ever was said in the locker room and what ever adjustments were made need to continue as Dallas moves onto week 4 against the Denver Broncos. The second half saw the defense force the Panthers into five 3 and out drives and not allow any points. None of those five drives going over two minutes. The defense did not give up a first down to the Panthers until 4:23 was left in the game. They also collected their first sack of the season when Jay Ratliff took down Jack Delhomme in the 3rd quarter. They would add two more by rookie Victor Butler in the 4th quarter. Up until the final drive for Carolina the Dallas defense only gave up 33 yards to them. Also holding Steve Smith to only 1 reception for 15 yards. The defense would only surrender 81 yards to Carolina in the second half. The game would be sealed by Terence Newman who intercepted Delhomme late in the 4th quarter and returned it 27 yards for a touchdown.
I’m hoping we see more of the same from the Dallas defense that we all saw in the second half against the Panthers. They tasted their first interceptions of the season as well as their first sacks. I believe it’s time for Wade Phillips to announce that Mike Jenkins is the full time starter at cornerback with Orlando Scandrick continuing his play as the nickel corner. With Carolina needing to pass late in the game Victor Butler came up with two sacks. Could be because he had fresh legs and took advantage of the tired offensive linemen. Hopefully he will get more opportunities as the season goes on. The tackling was much better by everyone in the second half. They also were able to knock down some balls from the receivers. I’m really hoping last nights victory will be a turning point for the season and will start their assault on opposing defenses.