Panthers still perfect, Romo hurt again in 33-14 Dallas loss

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ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- Cam Newton is still perfect this season. Tony Romo might be out for good with the same injury that sidelined him for seven games.

Newton got a big boost from a defense that returned two of Romo's three interceptions for touchdowns, and the Panthers ran their NFL-best winning streak to 15 regular-season games with a 33-14 victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday.

Romo injured the same left collarbone that sidelined him for all seven games of a losing streak that damaged the playoff hopes for the defending NFC East champion Cowboys (3-8).

Carolina linebacker Luke Kuechly intercepted two straight passes by Romo, returning the first 32 yards for a touchdown.

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Safety Kurt Coleman picked off Romo's second pass of the game and took it back 36 yards for the score to help the Panthers become the 16th NFL team to start a season 11-0.

Before getting hurt, Romo didn't look anything like the only quarterback to beat multiple teams with records of 9-0 or better.

He ended up losing for the first time in four starts this season. He had previously beaten Indianapolis at 9-0 in his fourth career start in 2006 and New Orleans at 13-0 three years later.

Newton did his part as well, getting Carolina's only offensive touchdown on a 4-yard run for a 30-6 lead moments before Romo's injury. He had 183 yards passing with several key third-down conversions and another 45 yards rushing.

On the second play of Dallas' possession after Newton's score, Romo was hit by a blitzing Thomas Davis and went down on his left shoulder. It was eerily similar to the injury he sustained in Week 2 against Philadelphia.

Romo went on injured reserve with a designation to return after the first injury, and the Cowboys couldn't win without him. They were already well on their way to a loss this time a week after Romo ended the seven-game skid in his return. He was 11 of 21 with 106 yards and a 27.2 passer rating.

Carolina led 13-3 when Kuechly and the NFL's leading defense for takeaways put the Panthers firmly in control.

The league's top tackler since joining the NFL in 2012, Kuechly dropped into coverage and easily stepped in front of a pass intended for Terrance Williams before churning up the left sideline and pushing Romo away as he crossed the goal line.

On the next play, Kuechly made a nifty over-the-head catch on a ball thrown to Jason Witten. The linebacker looked a little winded on the return, eventually settling for a 17-yarder that led to the third of Graham Gano's four field goals to put the Panthers up 23-3 at halftime.

It was the fourth time Romo has thrown multiple pick-6s in a game, and the first since a 34-18 home loss in 2012 against a Chicago defense that was among the league's best in forcing turnovers. Romo actually won his first of those, against Buffalo in 2007.

No such chance this time, because Newton kept the Carolina offense moving when Romo wasn't throwing interceptions. Newton had three 24-yard completions on third down, and led the Panthers into end zone after Dallas' Byron Jones was penalized for leaping on top of his linemen when Gano made a 48-yard field goal.

Dallas defensive end Greg Hardy had a quiet game against his former team, finishing without any tackles. He missed the last 15 games last year with Carolina because of his domestic violence case. Hardy signed with the Cowboys as a free agent and served a four-game suspension to start this season.


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Panthers still perfect, Romo hurt again in 33-14 Dallas loss

10.) Troy Aikman vs. Minnesota Vikings

Aikman’s Cowboys got into a shootout with the Vikings in 1998, but his team would be the one to go down to the score of 46-36.

There were tons of impressive stat lines on this Thanksgiving day – one of which will be later mentioned  on this list – and Aikman himself completed 34-57 passes for 455 yards and one touchdown. It’s a shame he couldn’t have added a touchdown or two more, because that would have put him higher up. However, the 455 yards is still an impressive feat and still stands as the Thanksgiving passing record.

(AP Photo/Tim Sharp)

9.) Sterling Sharpe vs. Dallas Cowboys

The Green Bay Packers got bested 42-31 by the Cowboys in 1994, but it was a person on the losing team that stole the show.

Packers wide receiver Sterling Sharpe dominated the game to the tune of nine catches for 122 yards and four touchdowns.

As if his day wasn’t impressive enough, the Packers as a team had only 277 yards of total offense, so Sharpe himself accounted for nearly half their offense.

It’s a shame his effort wasn’t good enough for a win.

(Photo by James V. Biever/Getty Images)

8.) Earl Campbell vs. Dallas Cowboys

The Houston Oilers and the Cowboys had the battle of Texas on Thanksgiving in 1979, and the two teams were both powerhouses at the time.

Campbell was the backbone for the Oilers, and on this day he turned 33 carries into 195 yards and two touchdowns.

Houston went on to beat Dallas 30-24 in one of the more exciting Thanksgiving games.

(AP Photo/Wally Fong)

7.) Barry Sanders vs. Chicago Bears

It probably speaks to Sanders’ greatness that this performance isn’t higher up on the list.

In 1977, Sanders’ Detroit Lions annihilated the Bears 55-20.

While the game itself didn’t look that entertaining, Sanders put on a side show on his own when he rushed for 167 yards and three touchdowns.

It was just another day at the office for one of the game’s greats.


6.) Walter Stanley vs. Detroit Lions

I hope you’re not tired of seeing the Packers and Lions already.

In 1986, Stanley’s Packers and the Lions had an amazing battle that went down to the very end.

Stanley finished for four grabs for 124 yards and two touchdowns, and while that would have been a good day on its own, it was what he did on special teams that has him on this list.

With just 41 seconds left, Stanley returned a punt 83 yards for the go-ahead score and the Packers would go on to win 44-40.

(Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/Getty Images)

5.) Bob Griese vs. St. Louis Cardinals

Griese only had 16 touchdown passes in his other 13 starts in 1977, so I’m not sure if even he was expecting this type of performance from himself.

On this day, Griese’s Miami Dolphins scored a Thanksgiving record of 55 points in their blowout win over the Cardinals.

The game might have been a bit boring if it wasn’t for Griese’s six touchdown passes, which set the Thanksgiving record for touchdown passes thrown. He also had 207 yards and one interception.

That record is now shared with someone else, and I think he might be coming up soon.

(AP Photo)

4.) Tony Romo vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2006 was the year the world got introduced to Romo, and he made sure everyone knew who his name was after his first, of many, Thanksgiving performances.

The Cowboys beat the Buccaneers 38-10, but it was Romo’s performance that everyone was talking about.

In just his fifth career start, Romo completed 22-29 passes for 306 yards and five touchdowns.

It was an incredible performance and remains to be one of Romo’s best games.

(AP Photo/LM Otero)

3.) Peyton Manning vs. Detroit Lions

Before 2013 happened, 2004 was the huge statistical season for Mr. Manning – and this game might have been his best performance of the year.

Manning’s Colts beat the Lions 41-9, and if it looks like a really easy win, it’s because Manning made it that way.

The future Hall of Fame quarterback completed 23-28 passes for 236 yards and six touchdowns.

The six touchdowns is tied with Griese’s for the most thrown on Thanksgiving, and it was a career-best for Manning until he threw for seven in 2013.

(AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

2.) Randy Moss vs. Dallas Cowboys

Remember the Aikman game that started off the list? Here’s the other performance that I foreshadowed.

1998 was Moss’ rookie season, but he wasn’t paying like a rookie.

Wait, maybe he was – I mean the Cowboys held him to only three catches.

Oh,but all three of those catches went for touchdowns, huh?

AND they combined for 163 yards?!?

That’s right, Moss had an insane day with 163 yards and three touchdowns on three catches, and he appeared to be the difference in the 46-36 win for the Vikings.

It was said that Moss was mad that the Cowboys had passed on him, and he wanted to make them regret that decision.

At least on that day, I’d say mission accomplished.

(AP Photo/Tim Sharp)

1.) O.J. Simpson vs. Detroit Lions

In 1976, O.J. Simpson put on one of the greatest rushing performances of all-time against the Lions.

Simpson had 29 carries for 273 yards and two touchdowns in a 27-14 loss.

The 273 yards was the most Simpson ever ran for in his career, and it is still the sixth-best rushing game of all-time.

It’s a shame it had to come in a loss, but I’m not going to fault Simpson on this once since he did everything he could have done.

(AP Photo/File)


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