Well, it won't win any awards for its aesthetics, but the Dallas Cowboys care little as they put away the Carolina Panthers 33-10 at Bank of America Stadium, moving to 7-3 on the year.
There wasn't quite the explosive "Texas Coast Offense" that we had seen over the last four weeks under coach Mike McCarthy, but there was offensive playmaking all over.
Same on defense, with coordinator Dan Quinn's "Dallas Doomsday'' turning in some spectacular efforts.
Prior to the game, we listed five keys to win for the Cowboys if they were to avoid a shock loss. So, based on those keys, what are our post-game grades?
1. Establish the run game as the final 'cylinder': Pass (Sort of) It wasn't the blistering running game we wanted, but the Cowboys did enough with the run despite being a bit pass-heavy against the Panthers.
Tony Pollard had 35 yards rushing in the first half on nine carries, and after Carolina scored a touchdown in the third quarter, on the following drive, a "typical" Pollard 21-yard touchdown run followed as he fought past several Panthers defenders.
In total, Pollard finished with 61 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries. It wasn't entirely the "get well game," we thought coming in, but there was a flash of the old Tony. And maybe most important, Pollard himself feels good about it.
Said Pollard: "We're just figuring out what works for us, what we like to run and what works best. We're just getting into rhythm ... It felt great. It felt great just being in the open field, making plays and getting into the end zone."
2. Keep Dak Prescott and the 'Texas Coast Offense' rolling: PASS (Just) We suspected it wouldn't be pretty, and with the Panthers' defense only giving up over 200 passing yards just four times this season, the numbers say we were right.
Dak would finish his day by going 25 of 38 for 189 yards and two touchdowns while Lamb had his 10+ catch, 150-yard game record halted (six catches for 38 yards and one TD). So ... they did enough to, as Dak put it, “Get the job done.''
“To say it was clean and to say that we did exactly what we wanted to do, I can’t say that,'' Prescott said. "Got to go look at the film, but you’ll take the win any way we can get it. It was a good win.''
3. Force Bryce Young to beat you: PASS Young was sacked seven times (hello, Micah Parsons, who totaled 2.5 of them). The defense also had an interception (the spectacular pick-6 by DaRon Bland AGAIN), and had a fumble.
At one stage in the game, Young was pressured on 15 of his 32 dropbacks as the defense got after him almost at will.
When the Panthers got down double-digits and were forced to be one-dimensional, the Cowboys' defense feasted as the sacks and takeaways came in a flurry.
Said Parsons, who'd complained earlier in the week about wanting to be set "free'' by the game plan: “Two-and-a-half sacks is great. But I told (teammates), I’m going for that turkey leg.''
That turkey leg is the top nationally-televised prize, of course, for the top performer on Thanksgiving Day, when the bumling Commanders come to town.
4. Convert third downs in a "home road game": PASS The Dallas offense was 4 of 10 in the first half on third downs as the Panthers' defense made things tough on Prescott and the offense.
Before Dak's day was done, Dallas was 6 of 14 on third down, which was enough to extend drives when they needed it, particularly a third-and-five that saw Prescott hit Jake Ferguson for a 24-yard gainer after the Panthers had moved to within a score after their monster 19-play, 70-yard drive that took 8:58 off the clock in the third quarter.
Again, it wasn't spectacular, but it was effective enough. And if the real point was to turn the whole deal into a home game for the "Carolina Cowboys''? Even owner Jerry Jones got in on that with his Charlotte-based announcement that Jimmy Johnson is going into the Ring of Honor on Dec. 30 at AT&T Stadium.
5. Stop the self-inflicted wounds: BIG PASS Mike McCarthy stated earlier in the week that penalties on the road were too high, and against Carolina, the laundry was severely limited. Dallas only had five penalties for 45 yards, as it was a relatively clean game.
Aside from the Sam Williams flag on the Panthers kicker, which extended the drive and ended in Carolina's touchdown, it was a good game penalty-wise. ... and "good-enough'' grades overall for the Dallas Cowboys.