Cowboys vs. Bears: Score, Grades and Analysis

Tim Keeney@@t_keenContributor IDecember 10, 2013

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Once again, Josh McCown looked nothing like a backup. 

Filling in for Jay Cutler, the pride of Sam Houston State threw for 348 yards and tallied five total touchdowns against a lifeless Dallas Cowboys defense, leading the Chicago Bears to a dominant 45-28 win in frigid conditions at Soldier Field on Monday night. 

En route to taking the Bears to 7-6, McCown entered the Bears' record books, per NFL Director of NFC Football Communications Randall Liu: 

The 'Boys tallied 342 yards of total offense themselves, but an inability to get the Bears off the field was their undoing, as they fell to 7-6 on the season. 

Dallas got the ball to start the game and went 75 yards on 12 plays and found the end zone on a nice back-shoulder throw from Tony Romo to Dez Bryant. Things were looking good. 

Then their defense took the field. 

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Here's how each of Chicago's first eight drives went: touchdown, touchdown, field goal, touchdown, field goal, touchdown, touchdown, field goal. 

Dallas' defense was outmatched in every aspect of the game, as it couldn't get pressure on McCown, couldn't stay with Chicago's talented receivers and continually missed tackles in the open field. 

The highlight of the game was undoubtedly at the end of the first half, when McCown delivered a perfect throw to the back corner of the end zone, where Alshon Jeffery—for the second week in a row—pulled down a catch-of-the-year candidate to put the Bears ahead, 24-14:

GIF courtesy of Bleacher Report

After a Robbie Gould field goal to start the third quarter, the Bears put together a variety of effective drives. Matt Forte capped off a nearly eight-minute, 14-play, 85-yard drive with a four-yard TD reception, and on the next Bears' possession, Michael Bush caught a 17-yard score to complete a three-play, 45-yard drive that lasted only 49 seconds. 

CBS Sports' Will Brinson summed it up:

Romo would add his third touchdown throw of the night when he connected with Cole Beasley in the fourth quarter, and Joseph Randle scored from one yard out with 11 seconds left in the game, but it was far too little and far too late. 

After the game Cowboys owner Jerry Jones talked about what he wants to see moving forward (via Associated Press):

"Basically, we will have to make some adjustments in what we are doing defensively. What that usually means is taking more risks on defense. But if you're going to have the kind of match like we had tonight or certainly in New Orleans you have to take some risks. We have to double up and I'm sure that will be part of the plan on defense; more risks."

Player Grades

Tony Romo, Cowboys: B

Dec 9, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) looks to pass during the second quarter against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

It's hard to fault Romo for throwing three touchdowns and not turning the ball over, although he was unable to get much of anything going down field and finished with just 104 yards on 20 passing attempts. 

He's had better days, obviously, but Romo and the Cowboys offense weren't the problem on Monday night. 

Josh McCown, Bears: A

Dec 9, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Josh McCown (12) celebrates with teammates after rushing for a touchdown during the second quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

McCown had a couple throws here and there that probably should have gone for interceptions, but those were the only minor blips on what was otherwise a fantastic performance. 

It helps to have weapons like Brandon Marshall, Jeffery and Forte, and it also helps when your offensive line gives you all kinds of time in the pocket, but McCown was accurate, strong and on-time with throws down the field. He also dumped it off when necessary and made plays with his legs:

GIF courtesy of Bleacher Report

Marc Trestman has starter Jay Cutler coming back soon from an injured ankle, but McCown is making a case that he should be the guy under center for the Bears despite Cutler's return.

DeMarco Murray, Cowboys: A

Dec 9, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray (29) runs the ball during the first quarter against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Murray doesn't get the same amount of national attention as guys like Romo and Bryant, but he has quietly been very good this season, and was once again explosive on Monday. 

On 20 touches, he racked up 154 total yards (145 rushing, nine receiving) and looked dangerous every time he had his named called. Fourteen of his touches went for at least five yards. 

The Cowboys offensive line did a terrific job opening up sizable holes, but on a mostly forgettable night for Dallas, Murray deserves credit for how hard he ran until the very end. 

Alshon Jeffery, Bears: A

The catch was so nice, we need to show it twice. Here's another angle of that unbelievable catch to end the first half:

GIF courtesy of Bleacher Report

Jeffery was quiet in the second half because the Bears didn't need to throw much, but he still tallied 84 yards on five catches and once again put on display his unbelievable blend of size, agility and hands made of glue. 

The 23-year-old is really something special. 

Marshall (100 yards on six catches) and Forte (175 total yards) also deserve recognition.

What's Next

The Cowboys head back home to host the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, while the Bears travel to Cleveland to take on the Browns.