NFL Week 4 grades: Cowboys get an ‘A-‘ for beating unbeaten Panthers, Raiders get a ‘D’ for ugly Monday loss

Going into Week 4’s showdown between the Dallas Cowboys and the undefeated Carolina Panthers, the only defense anyone was talking about was the one in Carolina. The Panthers went into the game giving up the fewest passing yards in the NFL, the fewest rushing yards and had dominated their way to a 3-0 start. The Panthers defense was expected to dominate on Sunday, but instead, it was the Cowboys defense that put on the show during Dallas’ wildly impressive 36-28 win. 

Last year, the Cowboys fielded one of the worst defenses in football, but that now seems like an eternity ago thanks to Dan Quinn, who has completely revamped the unit. Under Quinn’s leadership, the Cowboys have quietly become one of the better defenses in football and their improvement was on full display against the Panthers. 

The Panthers tried to throw the ball early and often, but that plan blew up in their face thanks to an unexpectedly impressive Cowboys pass rush that had Sam Darnold running for his life for the better part of four quarters. The Cowboys recorded five sacks in the game, marking the first time since 2019 that they’ve hit that number. The pass rush was led by Randy Gregory, who was playing in just his second game this season due to COVID-19 issues. 

Even when the Cowboys weren’t sacking Darnold, they were still giving him fits as they hurried him more than 10 times. That pressure caused Darnold to rush several throws, including two in the second half that led to two different interceptions by Trevon Diggs. You can see his second one below. 

Both of Diggs’ picks came during a dominating third quarter where the Cowboys outscored the Panthers 20-0. After trailing 14-13 at the half, the Cowboys went into the fourth quarter with a comfortable 33-14 lead. 

The interceptions by Diggs played a huge part in the dominating quarter as the Cowboys ended up turning the two picks into 10 points. 

The Cowboys also got a brilliant performance from their offense — Dak Prescott threw four touchdown passes and the rushing attack totaled more than 240 yards for just the sixth time this century — but we’re talking about the defense because no one saw this coming. 

With Prescott returning this season, everyone expected to the Cowboys to have a high-powered offense, but no one expected their defense to be this good, this fast. If the defense keeps playing at the level that it’s playing, the Cowboys might end up coasting to the NFC East title.

Alright, let’s get to the grades for every game from Week 4. If you’re looking for a deeper dive on the Bengals‘ wild 24-21 win over the Jaguars that was played on Thursday, be sure to click here.  

Dallas 36-28 over Carolina

Panthers-Cowboys grades by Patrik Walker (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)

L.A. Chargers 28-14 over Las Vegas (Monday)Indianapolis 27-17 over MiamiChicago 24-14 over DetroitBuffalo 40-0 over HoustonWashington 34-30 over AtlantaN.Y. Giants 27-21 over New Orleans (OT)N.Y. Jets 27-24 over Tennessee (OT)Kansas City 42-30 over Philadelphia

Chargers-Chiefs grades by Jeff Kerr (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)

Cleveland 14-7 over Minnesota

Browns-Vikings grades by Josh Edwards (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)

Seattle 28-21 over San FranciscoArizona 37-20 over L.A. Rams

Cardinals-Rams grades by Cody Benjamin (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)

Baltimore 23-7 over Denver

Ravens-Broncos grades by Jordan Dajani (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)

Green Bay 27-17 over Pittsburgh

Steelers-Packers grades by Bryan DeArdo (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)

Tampa Bay 19-17 over New England

Buccaneers-Patriots grades by Bryan DeArdo (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)

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