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Luke Kuechly is up in Panthers' win; Cam Newton is down

Kurt Coleman opened the scoring on Thursday, returning an interception of Tony Romo 36 yards for a touchdown. Tom Pennington/Getty Images

A full look at Carolina Panthers players who were "up" and those that were "down" in Thursday's 33-14 win against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium.

Up

Luke Kuechly: He showed why he is the best middle linebacker in the NFL with consecutive interceptions with no plays from scrimmage in between. He returned the first 32 yards for a touchdown. The last player with consecutive interceptions with no plays from scrimmage between them was Marcus Robertson of the Oilers in 1997. Kuechly also led the team in tackles with seven.

Kurt Coleman: The safety doesn't get a lot of attention, but he set the tone for this game with an interception returned for a touchdown on the game's third play. It was Coleman's fourth interception in the past five games and his fifth on the second.

Jerricho Cotchery: The 32-year-old wide receiver continues to make plays. He caught five passes for a team-high 73 yards, including several on third down to keep drives alive. Don't call him over the hill.

Down

Cam Newton: Anything I put in the down list is going to be nit-picking, because this was a complete team effort. But Newton's quarterback rating was 79.7 after three straight games of 104.4 or better. There wasn't much room to go up. I easily could give him a down for those sparkly shoes he wore to the post-game news conference.

Ron Rivera: The head coach lost his "Riverboat Ron" swagger and got a bit conservative when he punted instead of allowing Graham Gano to kick a 53-yard field goal with a 10-3 lead. Rivera did this because he was so confident in the way his defense was playing. Logical, but still like the kick there.

Josh Norman: The cornerback played great defensively, holding Dez Bryant to one catch for 6 yards while defending him. But he got the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after successfully defending Bryant in the end zone late in the fourth quarter. Again, this is nit-picking because there weren't many down moments.