CHARLOTTE, N.C. (CBSDFW.COM/AP) – It was a struggle all afternoon for the Dallas Cowboys in their loss to the Carolina Panthers in the season opener. The Cowboys start the season 0-1.
The Panthers defense sacked quarterback Dak Prescott six times and limited Dallas to 232 yards in a 16-8 victory over the Cowboys in the season opener.
Cam Newton ran for 58 yards and a touchdown, and Luke Kuechly had 13 tackles to lead the Panthers. Short had two sacks and Mario Addison added a game-clinching strip-sack of the Cowboys quarterback with 1:23 left.
“They’re great,” Prescott said of Carolina’s defense. “Luke Kuechly is the quarterback of that defense and does a great job of putting them in good position. And they are a sure-tackling team.”
The Cowboys, who entered the season looking to replace 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 didn’t score until the fourth quarter. Dallas’ leading receiver was Cole Beasley, who had seven catches for 73 yards.
Prescott refused to blame the team’s struggles on adjusting to new players — or on the offense’s lack of reps together in preseason.
“We have a lot of great players on this team,” Prescott said. “We’re not talking about guys we used to have or guys that are missing. It’s about the guys on the field and we gave it our all. I promise we will have a better performance next week.”
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 Carolina stopped Dallas on its final two drives and Addison — who had 11 sacks last season — stripped Prescott of the ball and Captain Munnerlyn recovered.
“Kawann can’t get a sack without me; I can’t get a sack without him, can’t get one without (Julius) Peppers,” Addison said. “Everybody’s got to do their job.”
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said the Cowboys did a better job of spreading the Panthers out late in the game, but added that penalties were a killer. Dallas was penalized 10 times for 85 yards.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)