IRVING, Texas -- Quincy Carter is finding out that it doesn't matter what happens in the first 56 minutes, as long as he comes through in the last four.
Carter turned a broken play into an 80-yard touchdown pass to Joey Galloway with 3:55 left, then threw a 24-yard TD pass to rookie Antonio Bryant with 56 seconds to go as the Dallas Cowboys rallied from a 13-0 deficit to stun the Carolina Panthers 14-13 Sunday.
Carter's 25th birthday was anything but happy early in the game, as he committed two turnovers and hardly made any good throws. Fans were booing, and nearly half of Texas Stadium emptied as the Cowboys (3-3) appeared headed to their first home shutout in 11 years.
Carolina (3-3) had the Cowboys facing a third-and-14 situation from their 20. Carter scrambled his way out of a sack, put a hand down to steady himself then threw deep to Galloway along the right sideline.
Safety Deon Grant got a hand on the ball, but it still fluttered to Galloway around midfield, and he cruised to the end zone.
After Dallas defense forced a punt, Carter took over at his 33 with 2:48 to go. The Cowboys had one timeout, plus the 2-minute warning.
It was a crucial moment for the second-year quarterback. Two games before, he'd directed a last-minute drive that led to the game-winning field goal against St. Louis. But last week, his overthrow in the closing minutes kept Dallas from beating the New York Giants.
He opened this drive with completions of 19 and 15 yards, then nearly blew it by dropping the ball when he tried to pull back a pass. Carolina's Julius Peppers, who earlier intercepted a pass by Carter, recovered the apparent fumble.
But thanks to the "tuck rule," the same one that saved Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in the playoffs, review officials ruled the play an incompletion. Given new life, Carter hit Darnay Scott for 10 yards on fourth-and-6.
Dallas faced fourth down again after Galloway dropped a pass at the 10 and defensive lineman Al Wallace forced him to hurry a third-down pass. This time, Carter hit Bryant in the end zone.
Bryant juggled the ball as he rolled in the end zone. Then he held the ball up, prompting teammates to pile onto him and fans to go wild. The catch withstood a review, and the extra point put the Cowboys ahead for the first time.
Carolina made things tense, though, as Chris Weinke - who played the entire second half after Rodney Peete was knocked out with a concussion - completed passes of 24 and 22 yards to get to the Dallas 41 with 11 seconds left.
With no timeouts, the Panthers needed more yards to get within kicker Shayne Graham's range. Weinke hit Muhsin Muhammad for nine yards, but Muhammad was tackled in bounds, and time expired before the Panthers could spike the ball.
What began as a dream season for Carolina has turned into a mediocre one. Since winning their first three games, the Panthers have lost three straight - by a combined seven points, and all in the closing minutes.
For Dallas, the win continued a lose-win, lose-win cycle and again kept Carter's critics at bay for at least another week. It also was a nice birthday present for the boss, Jerry Jones, who turned 60.
Peete threw a 25-yard touchdown to Brad Hoover after Peppers' interception, and Graham had field goals of 50 and 44 yards for the early scoring.
Weinke, who had thrown only one pass all season, went 7-of-12 for 114 yards. Peete was 9-of-15 for 84.
Carter was 15-of-32 for 225 yards, his fifth straight 200-yard game.
Emmitt Smith had 59 yards, leaving him 175 yards from passing Walter Payton to become the NFL's all-time rushing leader.
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