Getting there wasn't quite as easy in the beginning, but the end result was the same.
The Dallas Cowboys didn't exactly dominate the one-win Carolina Panthers out of the gate early on as they did in their win over the New York Giants the week before, but in truth, the blowout seemed inevitable. And sure enough, behind 16 consecutive points in the fourth quarter, the Cowboys eventually ran away with the victory, 33-10.
And in doing so, Dak Prescott continued his successful streak of impressive play. Although he finished with only 189 passing yards, he threw two touchdown tosses with no interceptions for a 95.2 quarterback rating. He also connected with nine different pass-catchers, including Brandin Cooks, who after his standout performance against the Giants, came back and led Dallas in receiving yards this week with just 42.
On the other side of the ball, as expected the Cowboys' ferocious pass rush proved a challenge for Panthers quarterback Bryce Young. The rookie was sacked seven times while throwing for 123 yards on his way to a 62.9 passer rating. Overall, the Cowboys outgained Carolina 311 yards to 187.
Leading the defensive charge was all-everything linebacker Micah Parsons. After being held off the stat sheet last week, he wasted no time in making his presence known, as he recorded two sacks and four tackles in the game's first quarter alone. Parsons went on to finish the day with a season-high 2.5 sacks.
It didn't take long for Prescott and company as on the Cowboys' second possession they marched 83 yards on 10 plays to the end zone. Tony Pollard did most of the heavy lifting with one catch for 12 yards and three runs for 34 more. But tight end Luke Schoonmaker got the scoring honors, hauling in his second career touchdown grab to give Dallas an early lead.
The Cowboys got some help on their next series as 40 of their 69 yards gained were gifted to them by the Panthers through pass interference and horse-collar penalties. That led to Dallas reaching Carolina's 11-yard line, but there the drive stalled. Brandon Aubrey continued his successful streak, though, splitting the uprights from 30 yards out to ring up the scoreboard again.
But Carolina would answer with their own field goal to keep the deficit close. Traveling 50 yards in 10 plays, the Panthers started off with three straight runs from Chuba Hubbard for a combined 28 yards while Young also connected with tight end Stephen Sullivan for another 20. Fortunately, the Dallas defense finally put the clamps down in the red zone, leaving Carolina to settle for a 42-yard field goal.
Despite that hiccup, Dallas still had just under two minutes to work with, which was plenty of time to add to its point total. Especially when the Panthers again gifted them yardage with a pair of unnecessary roughness penalties that twice moved the chains on third down. Those mistakes allowed the Cowboys to score with only 24 seconds left on the clock. This time Prescott lofted a pass to CeeDee Lamb in the back, left corner of the end zone for the receiver's fifth touchdown of the season and a 17-3 lead at the break.
The Panthers, however, weren't ready to throw in the towel just yet, and this time they were on the receiving end of a penalty gift. Sam Williams ran into punter Johnny Hekker, which provided Carolina a fourth-and-2 at its own 49-yard line instead of a fourth-and-7 at the 44. With that, the Panthers went for it and Young then found Adam Thielen on a 16-yard catch to move the chains.
That would actually be the first of three times during the drive that the Panthers would go for it on fourth down, and they were successful on each. The 17-play, 70-yard drive ended with a 4-yard pass from Young to tight end Tommy Tremble to again make it a one-possession game.
As the clock ticked over into the final frame, the Cowboys made sure that any hopes of an upset were quickly squashed. First, Pollard's simple 2-yard run started things off, but he soon capped off the possession with a spectacular 21-yard rush. He exploded right up the middle, broke tackles on his way and then dragged a defender to the goal line for his first touchdown since Week One.
And then that man did what he does. On the Panthers' very next snap, DaRon Bland stretched out in front of target Jonathan Mingo, hauled in the interception, rolled to the ground and then got up and raced 30 yards for the touchdown. That marked his fourth pick-six of the season, which tied the NFL record. Not that it mattered in the end, but Aubrey missed the extra point, his first time doing so since the season opener.
Needless to say, now with a 20-point lead, the game was well in hand. Which in turn allowed the defense to pin its ears back and get after the passer. Young was sacked on three consecutive plays, the last one also bringing a fumble that Donovan Wilson recovered at the Carolina 27-yard line. That led to a little redemption for Aubrey, who was good this time on his 27-yard field goal.
That left the rest of the game to backup quarterback Cooper Rush and many of the other reserves, who finished out the final uneventful minutes in the 33-10 win.
The turnaround will now be quick for the Cowboys as they will be back in action in four days when they host the rival Washington Commanders in their annual Thanksgiving game.