Chicago Bears Make an Early Season Statement in Dallas

John HatelakContributor ISeptember 19, 2010

Devin Hester makes a one-handed grab for a second-quarter TD reception Sunday. (Chris Sweda/Tribune)
Devin Hester makes a one-handed grab for a second-quarter TD reception Sunday. (Chris Sweda/Tribune)

 To say this was a big game for both teams would be putting it mildly. The Bears wanted to vindicate their opening game performance by proving it wasn't a fluke win against a bad team, at home, with a huge call going their way to pull it out. A win in a big conference game in a hostile environment would go a long way to doing that. The Cowboys were trying to avoid going 0 and 2 in their home opener, and avoid hearing about their status as all sizzle no steak choke jobs by fans and media.

 The Bears got off to a good start when Johnny Knox had a 42 yard return after taking the ball three yards deep in the Bears end zone, and returning it to the Bears 35. Than a nice power run up the A gap for 5 yards, than a blatant missed face mask on Bears quarterback Jay Cutler which should have resulted in a 15 yard roughing penalty putting the Bears in Cowboy territory. The play was blown to begin with as the defender was allowed a free pass to Cutler who would've escaped if the guy didn't grab his face mask. The next play resulted in a short gain to the TE as Cutler was planted by Ware after the throw, as for some strange reason, they had Brandon Manumaleuna one on one against him with Chris Williams watching the play with no one to block. Got to believe that was a blown line call somewhere. Result punt.
 On Defense the Cowboys converted on a first down than a couple of big plays by the Bears defense. First Briggs shoots the gap for a five yard tackle for loss. Then Tillman plants a forearm into Miles Austin, and knocks the ball loose on a high pass from Tony Romo, which was deflected in the air for an opportune interception by DJ Moore who returned it to the Cowboy 22.
 The next offensive possession was a disaster. The offensive line brought relentless pressure that the offensive line was no where near prepared for. It was like men against boys. Cutler took one hit after another. Bears were very fortunate to escape with a field goal, and not a turnover, or a season ending injury to Jay Cutler. They did however lose their starting left tackle Chris Williams to a pulled hamstring. Was this a precursor of things to come?


 On the next Cowboy offensive possession the Cowboys tried to set the tone and pound the ball on the Bears. They did take make a couple of first downs, but than a big play by Brian Urlacher resulted in a three yard loss, but there was a hold on the play that the Bears took, however Urlacher was adamant about not wanting to take the infraction. Than a couple of real good defensive plays on the next two plays which were passes resulting in in-completions. Than on third and twenty the Bears forced Romo to dump off a pass for a 5 yard gain resulting in a pun, and giving the ball back to the Bear offense. The Bear defense did a great job of keeping the Bears in the game to this point.

 On the Bears third possession of the 1st quarter resulted in more of the same. After a 2 yard run by Forte the Bears tried two passes, and had DeMarcus Ware run right by them like they weren't there. First beating Kevin Shafer, (taking over for Frank Omiyale at right tackle), and Manumaleuna on a double team that didn't look to work well. Than Ware whipped around the edge beating Frank Omiyale, (who was put at left tackle after Williams was forced to leave), with a bad hamstring. Bears were forced to punt which than resulted in a big play by the Cowboys number one draft pick Dez Bryant. This made the score 7 to 3 in favor of the Cowboys. To make matters worse, they also lost their top pick of the 2010 draft, safety Major Wright on the punt return for the rest of the game.

 On the next possession the Bears went to the short drop stuff. Hester had a big play for 19 yards on a quick slant. Than another quick hitter to Olsen on another slant that resulted in a 39 yard touchdown to regain the lead 10-7 at 1:09 left in the first quarter. Outstanding job of readjusting the game plan by Martz to offset the Bears deficiencies on the Offensive line. 

 The next Cowboy possession started well for the Cowboys with a pass to Jones out of the backfield for a nine yard gain. Than the Cowboys had a big gainer to Roy Williams which resulted in a big hit by Safety Chris Harris but he held on. Than another big gainer to Jason Whitten  putting the ball to the Bears twenty four yard line. A false start knocked it back five yards for the Cowboys, but a couple of passes to Austin places the ball on the Bear eleven yard line. Then on a short pass to Cowboy rookie running back Chris Grankowski resulted in the ball being popped out, but was ruled down by the officials. The call was challenged by the Bears, and was upheld as the elbow was ruled to be down before the ball popped loose. After a first down was made, the Bears were backed to the one on a first and goal. A play action pass on second and goal got Grankowski a wide open pass for a one yard score putting Dallas ahead by four 14 to 10.

 The Bears than tried to build on the momentum of their last touchdown drive on their next possession. After a bad penalty the Bears protected Cutler well enough for a huge gain on a fly route perfectly thrown by Cutler to Knox for a 59 yard gain. Than they got a nice gainer to Chester Taylor who made a great catch after slipping, and a run by Forte made it first and goal at the nine. Than the Bears ran a fade to Devin Hester in the left corner to make a spectacular one handed grab ruled a touchdown, but was challenged by the Cowboys. The call was upheld and ruled a touchdown as the Bears regained the lead on the fourth lead change of the first half. The thing that stood out on the drive was the pass protection. I think its seen what this offense is capable of of the blocking holds up. 



  Cowboys than drove the ball to past midfield on a couple of nice pass plays from Romo to Austin on their next possession following the Bears touchdown drive. After a bad drop by Austin Romo throws a pass behind Whiten which resulted in another deflected pass for an interception to DJ Moore his second of the game. 

 The Bears than continued their good blocking to give Cutler time to make a couple nice throws to get the ball to the Cowboy twenty six. On third and about five they ran a screen to Bears wide reciever Earl Bennett where it was stopped short a half yard. Bears than decided to go for it on fourth down and inches. They than converted with a Quarterback dive by Cutler with 51 seconds on the clock before halftime. After a couple of drops by Bennett and Hester Cutler threw the ball out of bounds on another blitz which was again picked up nicely but good coverage forced the in-completion. A smart play by Jay Cutler. After Gould kicks the field goal the Bears go into the half up by six to then Dallas Cowboys in Cowboy stadium. A result that seemed highly unlikely after the Bears first two offensive possession. Martz did a great job of adjusting as did the line once Williams was gone. A coincidence? Cutler also did an amazing job of hanging in there and keeping his poise when it looked like he may not have survived the game.

 The Cowboys received the ball to start out on offense to start the second half. The Cowboys drove the ball into Bear territory on a coupe of big pass plays. Than on a Bear blitz it was picked up and on a slip by Charles Tillman Roy Williams caught it for a 19 yard gain to put the ball in the red zone. inside the twenty. A penalty on a false start after an in-completion made it a second and fifteen at the 23. .After a short pass play the Cowboys had a third and eight that was pressured by Julius Peppers who flipped the ball to the Back for a four yard gain, and eventual fourth down play forcing a field goal. The Bear lead was cut to three 20-17.



  The Bears first second half possession started out with a nice screen play as they had a set with both Taylor and Forte. The ball wet to Forte for around 17 yards. Than Forte followed that with a 15 yard gain to near mid field. On a deep pass to Hester that was on the mark but just off Hester's finger tips, down the right sideline, it looked like he was grabbed by Cowboy cornerback Terrence Newman, but was not called by the official. The next play came in too slow, and Cutler was forced to burn a timeout on third and six. Bears than had a play foiled on a pass to Forte which ended a yard and a half short by what looked like a blown block by Hester which would've gotten the first, and what looked like much more had it been executed. Bears than punted it to the Cowboy 13 yard line.

 The Bears than had another Big play in a three yard tackle for loss to Felix Jones. on a long third and 13 Romo stepped up from outside pressure by Bear defensive end Israel Idonije to make a huge pass to rookie wide receiver Bryant putting the ball near the Cowboy 40. After another pass to Williams Bowman had a nice corner blitz making it second and ten. A pass to Austin looked to be a first down but he came back and lost a yard. On third and one Marion barber got a hand off up the middle that was a close call, and looked to be short but the good spot barely resulted in a first down. Than on some good run defense by the Bears there was a corner blitz that forced the quick pass from Romo who tried to hit Williams on a slant, but was low and behind as the Bears held.

 Bears started their next drive on the 20 after a touch back on the punt. They started with a bullet throw to Hester for a ten yard gain. Bears drove the ball to their own 48. after a Forte one yard loss it was third and twelve. Cutler completed a nice pass to Bennett for eight yards but was four yards short. The Punt resulted in a touch back and the Cowboys beginning at their own twenty on the last play of the third quarter which resulted in a three yard gain by Jones. 



 The fourth quarter started with a second and seven for the Cowboys. That was converted on an eight yard gain to Whitten for a first down. Bears than held after a great pass defended by Lance Briggs against All Pro tight end Whitten. The resulting punt put the Bears inside their own ten yard line at the nine. 

 After a short run and six yard pass to Knox they had a third and one, but failed to convert on a run by Forte by an out-standing play by Cowboy defensive tackle Jay Ratliff.

 After the Bear punt put the ball to the Cowboy 31, a couple of long gain to Whitten in the middle of the field got the ball back to the Bears 30. On third and five they ran a swing pass (Or wheel route) to the  back Teshard Choice which was badly thrown low and outside pass by Romo for an in-completion. The Cowboys than missed the 44 yard field goal which David Buehler hooked wide of the upright to the left.

 On the first play Cutler connected on a 18 yard completion to Knox to the midfield area on more great pass protection. Omiyale pretty much shut Ware down once taking over at Left Tackle. Williams may have lost his job there. At least after this game it would have to be strongly considered. An eight yard pass that Bennett almost broke for a touchdown but was pulled down from behind resulted in a second and two. After a Cowboy timeout  The Bears ran a short out to Hester along the left sideline. After a nice move by Hester to shake the tackle attempt Hester took it to the Cowboy three yard line giving the Bears a first and Goal with 5:45 remaining in the game.Cornerback Mike Jenkins was injured on the play for the Cowboys and did not return. On the next play at the Cowboy three they ran a fade pass perfectly to Forte for the score which put the Bears up by ten with just over five minutes left in the game 27 to 17.



 Cowboys than got a big play from a pass to Austin on which the Bear Cornerback slipped. Than another big play to Austin got the ball to the Bear 37. Then on a 9 yard gain to Williams the Bears made yet another huge play on defense with a strip  by DJ Moore (who solidified his nickle back job it would appear), and the recovery by Urlacher gave the Bears the ball at their own 35. The Bears than played it conservatively with three straight runs to knock considerable time off the clock, and forcing Dallas to burn one of their two timeouts they had left.


 After the Bears punt, Cowboys than drove the ball to the Bears 35 at the two minute mark hoping to get a quick score and an onside kick recovery. Bears than force a third and 4 at the 1:30 mark. Romo than flung the ball out of the back of the end zone. On fourth down they take the 48 yard Field goal which Buehler made right up the middle. 

 On the Onside kick attempt it was perfectly lofted in the air and into the waiting arms of Bennett to seal the big road victory. The Bears made a huge statement today. No longer will opponents be circling a win on the schedule when the Bears on it. Big plays on Offense and Defense highlight this game. They stopped the Cowboy rush making them one dimensional. On offense they were able to adjust to the relentless pressure by the Cowboys and get the ball down field when they needed it. This sets up what looks to be an early season classic against the division favorite Green Bay Packers.