4th and Goal: Cam's legs, defensive grit win season opener

- FACT: The Panthers are 1-0 in the David Tepper era.

FACT:  Cam Newton showed us that he can still, and will be used as a runner.

What’s still unknown is when this injury bug will go away and if the Cowboys exploited something no other team has been able to over the past year. How to contain Christian McCaffrey.

PHOTOS: Carolina Panthers vs. Dallas Cowboys

Here are the 4 biggest takeaways from the Panthers big emotional win over the Cowboys:

DEFENSE SHINES, TWEAKS NEEDED

We all said that the key to winning this game, is to shut down Ezekiel Elliott and the Dallas run game. Carolina did just that. The Panthers held Elliott to 69 yards on the ground and the team total to 94. Add that with six big sacks and you have a monster that was reminiscent to the phenomenal start they had this time last year.

Here’s what they need to tweak though: When Dallas got its wheels spinning, they worked fast. That caused the Caroline defense to allow a lot of quick passes for big gains at a time.

While Donte Jackson, Luke Kuechly and Mike Adams had big games, the second half they found struggles in stopping Dallas’ speed. Everyone in the locker rooms says they’re happy with starting on the right foot, but there is room to improve.

“HEY, BABY!”

Apparently offensive coordinator Norv Turner and Cam Newton are on the same wave length. Cam opened the game running for daylight on multiple occasions, one of which found the back of the end zone. If it’s not painfully clear that this is Cam’s team then, it is now.

According to the quarterback, Norv likes to say “Hey, Baby” a lot. Well Norv’s baby is getting the job done right now.

In this game, Cam showed a maturity that we haven’t seen from him in a while. Even though the game didn’t feel close, the field general made efforts to gather his troops and continue to march down field.

Multiple attempts downfield to Devin Funchess and Torrey Smith did not work so Cam had to check down to other targets, a lot of which were Christian McCaffrey. Let’s see if Cam continues to lead with his legs or his arm.

TOO MUCH, TOO SOON? 

It’s no secret that injuries have rocked the Panthers early this season. A major surprise was seeing that right tackle Daryl Williams was active on Sunday.

He did an amazing job helping keep Cam safe until he couldn’t anymore. The same knee that kept him out for weeks in camp got him again. It buckled and this time is looks even worse as he was carted off.

Now the question is was this too much, too soon?

Ron Rivera and Marty Hurney consulted with doctors and made the decision that he was good enough to go. Carolina is thin on the offensive line but guys like Amini Silatolu (who was also hurt but played) and Greg Van Roten being able to play different positions may have led to this decision.

Many will ask the same question and second guess, but I think now is the time to hit the waiver wire. They need depth and options on the market are getting thin.

STONE COLD CAROLINA PANTHERS

The swagger is back. You would never have been able to tell that the Panthers barely held on to a 16-point lead.

Like I said before, Cam Newton wore a robe to his post-game press conference. Da’Norris Searcy and I chatted a little today before he broke out his Stone Cold Steve Austin vest.

Even a guy who is on the shelf for the year, Fozzy Whittaker was displaying swagger. On the Chevy Carolina Dealers FOX 46 Pre-game show, he said “A storm was coming,” and he was right.

They gave new owner David Tepper the game ball and he was even “dripping that drip.” New era. New attitude. And we like it. 

What did you see from the Panthers big win? Let me know on twitter. @TheEpicAudi.

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