The Panthers entered the day ranked No. 1 in total defense and No. 1 in rushing defense. They probably won’t be at the top of either category after Week 4 ends.
The Cowboys gained 433 yards, including 245 rushing yards, in a 36-28 victory. Ezekiel Elliott had 143 yards on 20 carries, his first 100-yard game of the season and the most rushing yards he has had since 151 against the Eagles on Nov. 11, 2018.
“I think honestly, the tale of the day was more Zeke,” Panthers coach Matt Rhule said, via Darin Gantt of the team website.
The Panthers entered the game allowing only 45 yards per game on the ground. But the Panthers “got a little out of character at times,” Rhule said, by not tackling well or getting off blocks.
“When the offense can run the ball like that, the playbook opens up,” defensive back Jeremy Chinn said. “We’ve got to stop the run. That’s where defense starts. To be a good defense, it starts with stopping the run.”
It was the sixth-most rushing yards the Panthers have allowed in their history, and the most since Washington ran for 248 in 2019. (The record is the 337 the Rams ran for in 2001).
Defensive end Brian Burns called the performance of the run defense “embarrassing” and “a disappointment.”
“That 245 yards isn’t pretty, but I’m not going to let it define us as a defense, to be quite honest,” Burns said.