CHICAGO – The Cowboys were no match for the Bears’ offense on this Monday night. There were tons of highlight plays from Chicago, led by their passing game.
Typically, the hidden plays that go unnoticed are subtle, but since the Bears scored six touchdowns, even a few of them might make it to the list of plays that changed the course of Monday’s 45-28 outcome.
1. First Third-Down Conversion – The Cowboys had delivered an early message with an impression touchdown drive. And with the Bears on their heels to start the game, Dallas had a shot to get off the field with a third-and-10. But Alshon Jeffrey was able to make a tough catch in front of Orlando Scandrick for 15 yards to extend the drive that led to a game-tying touchdown. Who knows if that stop would’ve changed anything but it wiped out a chance for the Cowboys to extend on some early momentum.
2. McCown’s TD Scramble – Touchdowns usually don’t make the list, but this one was big and perhaps forgotten in the middle of so many Chicago scores. But with the game tied 7-7 early in the second quarter, the Cowboys forced the Bears into a third-and-goal from the 7. With DeMarcus Ware and Barry Church not in the game because of an untimely rotation, the Cowboys also decided to drop nose tackle Nick Hayden into coverage. Hayden was beaten by scrambling QB Josh McCown who scored to give the Bears a 14-7 lead.
3. Temporary Injury – The Cowboys trailed 17-14 but were looking for points before halftime. Dez Bryant caught a 10-yard pass that resulted in him falling on the ball and getting the wind knocked out of him. He stayed on the ground and the Cowboys were forced into a timeout by rule. Had he gotten up, the Cowboys would’ve hurried to the line and not called a timeout. Instead of the next snap occurring at 1:13, it’s probably more like a minute or even 55 seconds for the next play. Even if the Cowboys would’ve run three straight incomplete passes again, they would’ve punted it back to the Bears with only about 30 seconds to play. It’s unlikely they would have the time to get a touchdown. A field goal before the half would’ve kept the game at 20-14 and more manageable. Instead the Bears drove the field and scored on a jump-ball catch by Jeffrey to make it 24-14 at the half.
4. Murray for 1 yard – DeMarco Murray averaged 8.1 yards per carry Monday night, but it was a 1-yarder that really hurt the team. The Cowboys trailed 27-14 and Dwayne Harris gave the offense good field position with a 43 yard return to the Bears’ 47. After five yards by Joseph Randle on first down, Murray got just one yard on second down, forcing third-and-4. The Cowboys went deep to Dez Bryant with no success and punted the ball to the Bears, who proceeded to go 90 yards and put the game away. But a better run on second down and the third-down is much more manageable. The Cowboys had to keep pace there and could’ve before that stalled drive.
5. Interception Nullified – Trailing 27-14 in the third, the Cowboys had a shot to either make a stop or better yet, get the ball. On third down and 10 at the Bears’ 25, Brandon Carr appeared to knock the pass away and into the hands of Sterling Moore, who returned it 18 yards to the Bears’ 18. But Carr was flagged for holding before the pass, which nullified the penalty. The Bears kept it and drove down for another touchdown to give them a comfy 35-14 lead. One minute, the Cowboys are in the red zone with a chance to cut the lead to 6, instead they’re down 21.