In another tasty appetizer against a woefully inferior opponent, the Dallas Cowboys got warmed up for Thanksgiving with a 33-10 victory over the Carolina Panthers. ... with Micah Parsons playing a key role.
“It’s just being impactful,'' he said of his work on Sunday. "That’s when everybody else eats, as we saw. I think when I do that, it just sets the tone for the game.”
About that "tone'' and about that "game'' ... my Top 10 Observations ...
10. NO MERCY - The Cowboys reminded us again Sunday what we already knew: They're better than the NFL's worst. After beating the now 1-9 Panthers, Dallas is 7-3 with four - more than half - of its victories over teams with only one or two wins. The Cowboys have played each of the league's bottom four teams, going 4-1 against the Panthers (1-0), New York Giants (2-0), New England Patriots (1-0) and Arizona Cardinals (0-1). They haven't beaten a team with a winning record, and their 10 opponents are a combined 34-61.
9. MOROSE MEMORIES - The stadium name was different (then: Ericsson; now: Bank of America), but the scene was eerily similar. In the 1996 season the Cowboys were defending Super Bowl champs and were in the midst of their three-titles-in-four-years dynasty. After a 10-6 season they mowed down the Minnesota Vikings, 40-15, in the Wild Card and headed for Charlotte to meet the upstart, two-year-old Panthers. That playoff game on Jan. 5, 1997, however, was the beginning of the end. Michael Irvin and Deion Sanders left with injuries and Troy Aikman threw interceptions on Dallas' last two possessions in a 26-17 loss. The Cowboys haven't been to even an NFC Championship Game since.
8. POLLARD POWER - The Panthers threatened to make the game interested after a 17-play drive on which they converted three fourth downs to make it 17-10. But the Cowboys answered, scoring on a 21-yard touchdown run by Tony Pollard that he finished by bowling over two Panthers' defenders at the 7-yard line and plowing into the end zone. It is Pollard's first score since the season opener.
7. PATHETIC PANTHERS - It's saying something when we've already seen the 2-8 New York Giants (twice) and the 2-8 New England Patriots, but the Panthers confirmed that they are indeed one of the most anemic teams in the NFL. Carolina traded up last Spring to draft quarterback Bryce Young, but if they can't protect him it was a wasted move. And on defense? In the second quarter alone, the Panthers committed a 28-yard pass-interference penalty, let the Cowboys out of a 3rd-and-19 hole with two penalties on the same play by former Dallas safety Xavier Woods, roughed Prescott on a third-down scramble, turned a Cowboys' field goal into a touchdown with an inexplicable late hit well after the play by defensive lineman DeShawn Williams. Oh, and just to make sure Dallas scored, the Panthers dropped an interception in the end zone. Prescott hit CeeDee Lamb on the next play for a 17-3 halftime lead.
6. SPICY BLAND - Other than his brother or irritated fans in Buffalo remember Trevon Diggs? DaRon Bland is making him more forgettable by the week. Bland picked off Young for a diving Pick Six early in the fourth to put this one way. It is the cornerback's league-leading 11th interception in the last two seasons and his fourth Pick Six this year. That ties him for the most Pick Sixes in a season with Eric Allen (1993), Ken Houston (1971) and Jim Kearney (1972).
5. OH, AUBREY - Stop the presses, Cowboys' kicker Brandon Aubrey missed. The rookie is now 21 of 21 on field goals and 29 on 31 extra points, hooking both misses wide left.
4. PLEASED PARSONS (MORE MICAH) - A week ago Micah Parsons was selfishly unhappy when he was a non-factor in a 32-point blowout of the Giants. This week he was in on three sacks of Young - including two on his first eight drop-backs - so we're going to assume he is happier? (For what it's worth, Panthers' rookie right guard Chandler Zavala is the worst offensive lineman we've seen all season. Brutal.)
“I kind of like when (critics) go against me a little bit,” Parsons said after a day that also had him puking due to some overindulgence in energy powder. “That always gets me a little bit more motivated. Teams are doing some unordinary things (to slow me down), and it kind of throws you off your game ...
“It just shows they have to account for me. I know they were trying to do everything they can to slow me down. With me moving around and doing the things that I do, it definitely draws more attention. ... That’s when everybody else eats, as we saw. I think when I do that, it just sets the tone for the game.”
3. DRAFT DO-OVER - While Houston Texans' quarterback C.J. Stroud is being mentioned as an MVP candidate, the Panthers' Young looks absolutely overwhelmed. Granted, he gets pressured on seemingly every throw. But when there are open receivers he makes bad reads, bad throws, or both.
2. HOW 'BOUT THAT RING OF HONOR?! - The Cowboys accomplished what was expected on the field. But the biggest - best - news of the day came off of it as owner Jerry Jones ended years of frustration by fans and Jimmy Johnson by finally announcing that the two-time Super Bowl coach will be inducted into the team's Ring of Honor on Dec. 30. Don't mind that Jones initially gloated that the date would be "1923." Just a minor false start.
1. CURSE CURED? - Not sure if the Jimmy-Jerry "feud" was a viable curse, but we're certain that since Jimmy has had a firm date with the Ring of Honor his former team is undefeated.