Controversial calls cost Panthers in loss to Cowboys
Another Sunday went by and the Carolina Panthers suffered yet another heartbreaking defeat.
Marred by a few disputable calls late in their game against the Dallas Cowboys, the Panthers dropped their fifth contest of the season, 19-14, at Bank of America Stadium in front of 73,981 fans.
Panthers quarterback Cam Newton said Sunday's game was like a horror movie replayed for he and his teammates.
"It's been like the past couple of games have been the same script by the same director," Newton said. "It is getting kind of boring."
Down 16-14 with just over two minutes left in the contest, the first of the controversial plays took place with the Panthers (1-5) trying to convert on fourth down and two.
The Carolina offense rushed to the line with nearly two dozen Cowboy defenders rushing on and off the field for substitutions.
Newton quickly snapped the football and completed a short pass to tight end Greg Olsen for an apparent first down.
However, officials on the field ruled that Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan had called timeout before the play had taken place.
The Panthers' second attempt at a first down resulted in an incomplete pass and turnover on downs.
"(The referees) said (Dallas) called (the timeout) before the ball was snapped," said Panthers coach Ron Rivera. "I was told it came from the sideline. Now, there is no way to look at it. Truthfully, we shouldn't have put ourselves in that position."
Another debatable call cost the Panthers again when trying to stop the Cowboys' offense on the ensuing drive.
On second-and-10, Carolina linebacker James Anderson was called for a horse collar tackle after bringing down Dallas running back Phillip Tanner from behind.
Anderson said replays showed his tackle was legal.
"I didn't feel like I did (horse collar), but (the officials) made the call," he said. "When I looked at the replay, my hand was on the front of his shoulder pads."
The drive led to a Dan Bailey field goal — his fourth of the game — and the Panthers couldn't come up with a winning touchdown in the waning 53 seconds of the contest.
Rivera said he was upset with the penalty on Anderson, as well.
"I just disagree with the call," he said. "We'll go from there."
Dallas quarterback Tony Romo had the hot hand early in Sunday's game, completing his first nine passes of the contest for 67 yards.
"We had to have this one today," Romo said. "It was a grind it out game on the road in the NFL. We did a lot of good things that allowed us to win. We completed a lot of passes. We ran the ball good at different times in the game and did the things it takes to win. Our defense shut them down in the end."
Despite Romo's success in the pass game, the Cowboys (3-3) scored only three points in the first half. A lengthy 18-play, 91-yard drive by Dallas ate up 10 minutes of the first half and led to a Bailey 19-yard field goal.
The Panthers drove down to the Dallas 6-yard line trying to answer the score, but came up empty when an arrent throw from Newton was intercepted by rookie cornerback Morris Claiborne in the middle of the end zone.
"I was just trying to throw (the ball) away," Newton said. "The (Dallas) defense didn't give us the look that we wanted. I was stuck on one side. By the time I tried to throw it away, I got affected by the hit."
Despite the mistake, the Carolina offense got the ball back and scored a touchdown just before the break. Newton connected with Brandon LaFell on a 5-yard touchdown pass with 14 seconds left in the second quarter.
The Panthers led 7-3 at the break.
Romo once again helped Dallas to come out of the gates strong in the second half.
The Cowboys went 63 yards in two plays — both passes from Romo to Miles Austin — to take a 10-7 lead.
Austin's second catch was a 26-yard touchdown pass from Romo that gave Dallas its first lead of the contest.
"I thought it was a big win for us," said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett. "We knew it was going to be a tough battle. They are a good football team. If you look at the teams they've played and the scores of those games, expect for the Giants game, they were in every game against some good football teams. We knew that. We had great respect for them coming in."
After Carolina went three and out, Dallas added a 49-yard field goal from Bailey to extend the lead to 13-7.
Mike Tolbert's 2-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter put the Panthers up 14-13, but two Bailey field goals and late shifts in momentum cost Carolina the game.
The Panthers are on the road the next two weeks against Chicago (4-1) and Washington (3-4) before hosting Peyton Manning the Denver Broncos (3-3) on Nov. 11 at Bank of America Stadium.
Newton said he and his teammates will try to keep pounding and hope for better days ahead.
"For us, we've just got to start one play at a time and make the most of and maximize each and every play because if we don't, we don't know when we may need it," Newton said. "A prime example is the interception thrown in the red zone. It can't happen. It happened. We took those points off of the board. if we score, who knows what would have happened. I think the main objective for us right now is for each and every person to come in and get better."