ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) - Terence Newman dove into the end zone, threw the ball into the air and exhaled. The Dallas Cowboys were headed to victory and their maligned defense was the main reason for it.
Newman returned an interception 27 yards for a touchdown with 5:07 left, cracking open a tight game and sending the Cowboys to a 21-7 victory over the Carolina Panthers on Monday night.
Dallas (2-1) came into this game without a takeaway or a sack, the latter number an especially sorry stat for last year's NFL leaders. But the Cowboys harassed Jake Delhomme into three sacks, two interceptions and a fumble - and, most importantly, forced him and the Panthers (0-3) into four straight three-and-outs to start the second half. Two sacks and the fumble came on Carolina's final drive.
Tony Romo moved the ball well all night, but struggled to turn deep drives into points.
Dallas was leading only 13-7 when Newman picked off a ball intended for Steve Smith and zipped toward the right corner of the end zone, hurtling in ashe was caught from behind.
Teammates mobbed him in celebration while a loud crowd of 90,588 savored the likelihood of the Cowboys' first victory in their new $1.15 billion home, a week after a last-second loss to the New York Giants.