Contenders win all the winnable games that are on the schedule, and Dallas made sure to remind both the NFL and themselves that there's a huge difference between them and the Carolina Panthers.
The Panthers never really appeared to pose a real threat to Dallas, but a 17-play third-quarter drive that ended in a touchdown pulled Carolina to within a single possession at 17-10.
.On the very next play from scrimmage, cornerback DaRon Bland took advantage of rookie Panthers quarterback Bryce Young, snaring an interception and returning it for a touchdown.
Young failed to notice Bland jumping into the passing lane ahead of wide receiver Jonathan Mingo, and 30 yards later, Bland had his NFL record-tying fourth pick-six of the season.
The touchdown put Dallas up by 20, effectively ending the game against a Carolina team that, other than that one touchdown drive, was utterly unable to mount any kind sustained offensive attack.
The Cowboys swarmed Carolina's offensive line, sacking Young six times. Micah Parsons had 2.5 of those, and spent almost as much time in Carolina's backfield as Young himself.
Bland, a fifth-round pick in 2022 out of Fresno State, has stepped up in the absence of cornerback Trevon Diggs, who was lost for the season after just two games due to a torn ACL.