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Posted: 09 Oct 2018 08:06 AM
|Panthers defensive tackle Kawann Short stood smiling at his locker sporting a new black golf shirt with three letters stitched on that read: G2X.
It was a present to the defensive linemen from new coordinator Eric Washington 鈥?a reminder of the motto of this year's unit.
"Getting to the spot [url=http://www.billsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-russell-bodine-jersey]http://www.billsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-russell-bodine-jersey[/url] , man; getting to the quarterback," Short said. "It's the mentality for everybody on defense."
The Panthers' defense did plenty of that Sunday, sacking quarterback Dak Prescott six times and limiting 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 鈥?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 鈥?who had 11 sacks last season 鈥?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 [url=http://www.jaguarscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-abry-jones-jersey]Abry Jones Jersey[/url] , 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.
OLSEN DOWN AGAIN: Panthers tight end Greg Olsen left in the first half with a foot injury and did not return. He was on the sideline in the second half on crutches with his right foot in the boot.
It's the same foot Olsen broke last season, costing him nine games. Rivera offered no other updates on how long the three-time Pro Bowl selection might be out.
NEWTON RUNNING: Just as he did last season, Newton led the Panthers in rushing. He had 52 yards on four carries on the game's opening drive, but Christian McCaffrey fumbled near the goal line.
Newton said new offensive coordinator Norv Turner told him when he arrived that, "I'm going to let you be you, baby."
"They challenge you in so many different ways," Garrett said. "The quarterback runs in the first half were such huge plays for them, converting third downs [url=http://www.officialcanucks.com/authentic-adidas-brendan-leipsic-jersey]Brendan Leipsic Jersey Kids[/url] , down in the red zone. He's been doing that his whole career. We knew that was something we'd have to somehow contain and control."
GETTING HIS KICKS: Brett Maher, who replaced Dan Bailey 鈥?the second-most accurate kicker in NFL history 鈥?missed a 47-yard field goal in his first career attempt.
CHANGING TIMES: For the first time in franchise history, the Panthers painted their team logo at midfield.
New owner David Tepper made the decision after purchasing the team from Jerry Richardson in July. The Panthers have always had the NFL "shield" at midfield 鈥?per Richardson's orders 鈥?since coming into the league as an expansion franchise in 1995.
Cowboys: Defensive end Randy Gregory suffered a concussion in the first half and did not return.
Panthers: Along with Olsen, second-team All-Pro right tackle Daryl Williams went down with a knee injury in the fourth quarter and was carted off the field. Williams tore his MCL and dislocated his knee cap in the preseason, but Rivera said this is not the same injury. ... Kuechly injured his left knee in the fourth quarter but returned to the game.
Cowboys: Host the Giants on Sunday night.
Panthers: Visit the Falcons on Sunday.
LeBron James defied belief with another brilliant playoff performance and was in utter disbelief at the officials and a play by teammate J.R. Smith down the stretch that sent the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 124-114 overtime loss to Golden State in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday night.
James posted the first 50-point game in the finals since Michael Jordan did it 25 years ago and had the Cavaliers in position to stun the heavily favored Warriors in the opener before a disputed replay overturn and Smith’s blunder turned the tide in Golden State’s favor.
”Tonight we played as well as we’ve played all postseason, and we gave ourselves a chance possession after possession after possession,” James said. ”There were just some plays that were kind of taken away from us. Simple as that.”
James finished with 51 points in the highest scoring finals game in a losing effort and had the Cavaliers in position to win when his pass down low to George Hill drew a foul on Klay Thompson with 4.6 seconds left and Cleveland trailing 107-106. Hill hit the first shot to tie the game but missed the second.
Smith secured the rebound but dribbled to half court, a play usually made with the lead. James was calling for the ball that entire time and could only hold his arms out in shock before walking back to the huddle for overtime.
While coach Tyronn Lue said Smith thought the Cavs were up by a point, Smith insisted he knew the score.
”I knew it was tied,” he said. ”I thought we were going to take a timeout because I got the rebound. I’m pretty sure everybody didn’t think I was going to shoot it over KD right there. … I tried to bring it out and get enough space to maybe get a shot off. I looked over at LeBron and he looked like he was trying to get a timeout. So I stopped [url=http://www.officialbruinsproonline.com/authentic-adidas-rick-nash-jersey]Rick Nash Jersey[/url] , and the game was over.”
James said he didn’t know what Smith was thinking and walked out of the postgame news conference after growing tired of repeated questioning about whether Smith knew the score.
”I don’t know what J.R. was thinking,” James said, refusing to speculate on Smith’s thought process. ”I don’t know the question you’re trying to ask.”
The Cavaliers were not able to recover from Smith’s blunder.
The Warriors scored on their first possession of overtime when Durant drew a foul from Hill that upset James once again and never looked back, outscoring Cleveland 17-7 in the extra session.
The game ended with James jawing with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson and then teammate Tristan Thompson getting ejected for a flagrant foul after he got upset when Shaun Livingston attempted a shot when the game was already in hand instead of taking a shot-clock violation.
There were several calls down the stretch that angered James, with the biggest coming after James drove past Stephen Curry for a three-point play that put Cleveland up 104-102 with 50 seconds left.
James appeared to draw a charge on Durant. But officials went to the replay to see if James was in the restricted area which would make it a block. While James was clearly outside the restricted area, officials also had the chance to review whether James was in legal guarding position and changed the call to a block.
”I thought I read that play just as well as I read any play in my career, defensively,” James said. ”I saw the drive, I was outside the charge line, I stepped in [url=http://www.ravenscheapstores.com/tim-williams-jersey-cheap]Tim Williams Jersey[/url] , took the contact. It’s a huge play. It’s a huge play.”
James answered with an impressive drive, changing hands in midair before scoring to give the Cavs the lead. But it wasn’t enough when Curry answered with a three-point play followed by Smith’s miscue.
The opener of the fourth straight finals between these teams followed a familiar script with the deeper Warriors overcoming a sensational individually effort by James the way they did in winning the past two titles.
James had his highest-scoring playoff game ever, tied Jerry West for the most 40-point games in a single postseason with eight and almost single-handedly led the Cavs to the win.
He made 19 of 32 shots, added eight rebounds and eight assists and played nearly 48 minutes for a third straight game.
But the lasting image of this game will be of James calling for the ball behind the 3-point line as Smith dribbled out the clock in a play reminiscent of one made by Dallas’ Derek Harper in a playoff loss to the Lakers 34 years ago.
”It was epic,” Lue said ”He did enough to carry this team to a victory. We just came up short. But this is LeBron James, that’s who he is. That’s why he’s the best player in the world. He’s been doing it for us all season.
”To do what he did tonight and come out robbed, it’s just not right.”
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