Cowboys vs.Bears: Takeaways from Chicago's 45-28 Win Against Dallas
After enduring two straight losses, the Chicago Bears desperately needed a victory on Monday night against the Dallas Cowboys. The Chicago offense did not disappoint, amassing 490 yards of total offense en route to the 45-28 victory over the Cowboys.
The Bears pulled even in the win column with the Detroit Lions atop the NFC North at 7-6, but the Lions still hold the tiebreaker with their two victories over the Bears this season.
The Lions will have to prove they are not the same team we have seen in the past that crumbles down the stretch while the Bears will try to find momentum en route to a potential playoff berth.
Here are my five takeaways from the Bears' 45-28 victory against the Dallas Cowboys.
Josh McCown Continued to Impress
Josh McCown made his fourth straight start on Monday night and put up one of the best quarterback performances by a Chicago Bear in recent history.
McCown when 27-of-36 for 348 yards with four touchdowns through the air and another on the ground, becoming the first Bears quarterback since Johnny Lujack in 1949 to score five or more touchdowns in one game, via ESPN.com.
Much like he has been throughout his time as the Bears' starter, McCown virtually played mistake-free football, did not turn the ball over and made plays when the offense needed him most.
Despite his strong games during Jay Cutler's absence, Marc Trestman was adamant after the game that Cutler was still the starter, telling Adam Jahns of the Chicago Tribune, "When Jay's good to go and can have a full week of practice, he’ll be our quarterback.”
Strong performances from McCown aside, both he and Trestman have been consistent about his role on the team as a backup, and if nothing else, he has proved he is one of the league's best backup quarterbacks.
Run Defense Remains a Concern
A week after giving up 246 yards rushing to the Minnesota Vikings, the Bears' 32nd-ranked run defense again struggled and allowed 198 yards on the ground to the Cowboys.
Dallas' DeMarco Murray was fantastic in the first half, racking up 99 yards and finished the game with 145 yards on 18 carries.
Due to Chicago's growing lead, the Cowboys shied away from running the football despite gaining 7.1 yards per rush.
The Bears defensive line again failed at the point of attack, often letting Murray slip between his lineman en route to a big gain. The linebackers and safeties struggled wrapping up once Murray was able to get to the second level.
The run defense has dropped off significantly since the loss of Lance Briggs due to injury and will need to find some sort of answers moving forward if the team wants to make it to the playoffs.
Rookie Linebackers Struggled Again
Thrust into the lineup due to injuries at the position, both Jonathan Bostic and Khaseem Greene have struggled as starters in the NFL.
The buzz that surrounded Bostic after a few strong plays in the preseason quickly subsided when he replaced D.J. Williams at middle linebacker after he was lost for the season due to a torn pectoral muscle.
Poor angles and bad tackling have been his demise, and both were once again on display Monday night. He and Greene, who replaced Briggs in October after a shoulder injury, were both guilty of overpursuing against the Cowboys, often taking themselves completely out of the play.
Both have shown at times the ability to make a play but often have to read a play, process it, then react while veterans can read, process and react nearly simultaneously.
The plan was never for these two to get major playing time this season, but due to injuries it has become more and more apparent that both have a long ways to go. This playing time will help in the future, but it has hampered this defense's ability to slow down the run.
Bears Don't Punt in a Game for First Time Since 1991
For the first time in over 20 years the Bears did not have to punt once in an entire game.
According to Comcast SportsNet Chicago's Christopher Kamka, the Bears last went an entire game without punting in December of 1991 against the Dallas Cowboys in a Wild Card Game.
In total, the streak lasted for 357 games and goes to show how quickly this Bears offense has improved over a short period of time.
The team controlled the clock by having 12 more minutes of possession, and the offense was able to convert eight of its 11 third-down chances, forcing punter Adam Podlesh to stand on the chilly sideline for much of the night.
The Bears scored on their eight meaningful possessions of the game and executed their game plan flawlessly.
Alshon Jeffery Continued to Prove He Is Becoming Elite
A week after torching the Minnesota Vikings for 249 yards on 12 catches with two touchdowns while making a spectacular catch in the end zone, Alshon Jeffery followed up that performance with 84 yards on five catches with one touchdown Monday night.
That touchdown again was one for the ever-growing Jeffery highlight reel. With a 17-14 lead and the final seconds ticking away in the first half, McCown threw a floater in the corner of the end zone that Jeffery was able to secure above his head, all while tapping his feet in the limited space below him.
After the game, fellow receiver Earl Bennett was beyond impressed, telling Dan Wiederer of the Chicago Tribune:
Crazy, man. Crazy. Alshon just continues to make great catches each and every week. Last week (against the Vikings), I was like, 'Man, that was probably one of the best catches I've ever seen.' This week I was like, 'Man, that was probably one of the best catches I've seen.' The guy is balling.
"Balling" indeed. In his past five games, he has 572 receiving yards on 37 catches with three touchdowns.
Two years ago, the Bears did not have one No. 1 wide receiver and now with Jeffery combined with Brandon Marshall, the team may have two.