Dan Bailey made four field goals, including two in the fourth quarter, to give the Dallas Cowboys a 19-14 win over Carolina Sunday afternoon in front of a crowd of 73,981 at Bank of America Stadium.
A week ago, Bailey missed a potential game-winning field goal with 2 seconds left in a 31-29 loss at Baltimore.
On Sunday, Bailey was steady with kicks of 19, 49, 28 and 38 yards.
“I thought our special teams did a good job. Dan Bailey came up big a couple of times to seal the deal for us,” Dallas coach Jason Garrett said.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Star-Telegram
The win moves the Cowboys to 3-3 with a home game against the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants next Sunday. Carolina falls to 1-5.
“We live in a day-to-day, week-to-week world. We understand that,” Garrett said.
“It [3-3 record] leaves us not digging out. If you look at where everybody else is around the league, we’re not digging out of anything. We’ve got a chance to improve on where we are,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. “We’ve got a big-time game coming up here against the Giants. We know what that game can mean. It’s amazing what eight days could do.”
Tony Romo completed 24 of 34 passes for 227 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. Miles Austin had five receptions for 97 yards and a 26-yard touchdown grab in the third quarter. Felix Jones and Phillip Tanner combined for 28 carries and 74 tough, mostly inside yards.
The defense held the Panthers in check except for a couple of Cam Newton scrambles. The final two plays of the game were a sack by Anthony Spencer and a DeMarcus Ware fumble recovery.
“We trust our defense immensely. Our defense was outstanding,” Garrett said. “We knew we would be challenged by that offense in a lot of different ways. Their biggest plays came on Cam Newton runs and the run off that. They did a great job throughout the game.
“Defense came through again like they have most of the year.”
Dallas started the game with a penalty as Dan Bailey’s opening kickoff sailed out of bounds giving Carolina the ball at their own 40.
After the defense forced a three-and-out series, Dez Bryant was flagged for unnecessary roughness on a punt return after exchanging punches with Greg Hardy.
Finally, on offense and with Bryant sitting out the opening snap, Dallas would go three plays and have to punt after Kevin Ogletree’s bobbled third-down reception was 1-yard short of a first down. He had the first down yardage, but the bobbled catch forced him to lose ground.
Then Dallas was flagged again, on the punt, when Orie Lemon was called for holding.
Again, the defense forced another three-and-out series.
Finally, Dallas settled down.
Behind Romo’s crisp passing, Dallas drove 85 yards in 18 plays, but had to settle for Bailey’s 19-yard field goal and a 3-0 lead. Dallas converted three third downs on the drive that took 10 minutes, 10 seconds with Romo completing eight of 10 passes.
Carolina settled down too.
Newton drove the Panthers to the Cowboys’ 6. On a second-and-goal play at the 6, Newton was intercepted in the end zone by Morris Claiborne.
Dallas was driving until Miles Austin was stripped by Thomas Davis while running in the open field. Luke Kuechly scooped up the ball on one bounce and returned it to the Carolina 37. However, a low block by Charles Godfrey moved the ball back to the 20. The game was delayed while Dallas center Phil Costa was carted off the field with an ankle injury and didn’t return.
Carolina converted the turnover into a touchdown and a 7-3 lead.
The Panthers drove 80 yards in 10 plays, keyed by Newton scrambles of 15 and 16 yards, to score on a 5-yard pass from Newton to Brandon LaFell with 14 seconds left before halftime.
On their second possession of the third quarter, Dallas regained the lead on a 26-yard touchdown pass from Romo to Austin. The drive covered 63 yards and took only four plays. Austin also had a 36-yard catch on the drive.
After forcing a punt, Dallas drove for another score.
This time they stalled at the Carolina 31 and Bailey made a 49-yard field goal to push the Cowboys’ lead to 13-7 at the 2:13 mark of the third quarter.
With the aid of two defensive penalties, one on Jay Ratliff and the other on Brandon Carr, Carolina took the lead on a 75-yard, nine play drive with Mike Tolbert getting the touchdown on a 2-yard run to give the Panthers a 14-13 lead with 11:38 left in the game. Carr’s holding call came on a third-and-goal play at the 5 and gave the Panthers a first down.
After an exchange of punts, Dallas drove to the Panthers’ 15. On second down, Bryant dropped a pass in the end zone. On third down, Phillip Tanner gained 5 to the 10. On fourth down, Bailey made a 28-yard field goal to make it 16-14.
“We’re going to keep giving him [Bryant] chances. He makes a lot of chances for us,” Garrett said.
Dallas then turned the game over to the defense.
Facing a fourth and 2 at the Carolina 39, Newton threw incomplete to Louis Murphy, who was closely guarded by Claiborne.
Dallas took over with 2:08 left in the game and added a Bailey 38-yard field goal to make it 19-14 with 53 seconds left in the game.
Carolina moved to their own 46, but a sack by Anthony Spencer and the ill-fated laterals ended the game with Ware’s fumble recovery.
“Luck is on your side sometimes. You just keep battling and things eventually turn for you,” Carr said. “Today was a clear indication things are looking up for us.”
Follow our coverage live on the Cowboys Corner blog and join the conversation on Twitter, Facebook or in the comments.