It was a 49-29 rout of the Chicago Bears by the Dallas Cowboys and, if you were able to watch the game, you know the final score doesn't truly tell the story of just how dominant the latter was at AT&T Stadium in Week 8. And, with that, let's dive into our Second Thought about the game and the Cowboys as a whole going into the bye week.
The Verdikt from 'No C': This could've been a 60 burger by the Cowboys, and I am neither kidding nor exaggerating when I say this. Consider it took a roughing the passer penalty and an overturned fumble and recovery to delete a Trevon Diggs interception and Jayron Kearse, respectively, both [unforgivably bad] calls ending in 13 points for the struggling Bears offense after the Cowboys took a 28-7 lead in the first half of the game.
If not for those, seeing as the Cowboys had already scored touchdowns on each of their first four possessions, it's possible Dallas blows the lid off of the game with a 40 burger at halftime. It was not to be, however, but credit them for not hanging their head following adversity that included Dak Prescott's lone mistake on the evening - an interception - after the quarterback scorched the earth in the first half to complement the flashpoint, career-best outing from Tony Pollard. Toss in four sacks and a Micah Parsons' first NFL touchdown and the Bears never stood a chance.
Unsung Hero: For my money, the unsung hero goes to Damone Clark. I could easily toss this title in several different directions for Week 8 - e.g., Leighton Vander Esch, Jayron Kearse, Dante Fowler, Osa Odighizuwa, etc., etc. - but none of those players were being hurled into the fire in their first game back after major neck surgery andin what was also an NFL debut. With four-time Pro Bowl linebacker Anthony Barr leaving in the second quarter with a hamstring injury, not to return, the plan to mostly relegate Clark to special teams was vaporized.
He stepped in for Barr and acquitted himself well in the process, and that was no easy task for the reasons I mentioned above. To miss no tackles and not be the culprit for any big plays is more than impressive, with Clark never once looking as if the stage or moment was too big for him. He was also close to having his first-ever NFL sack, but the credit went to DeMarcus Lawrence, but that still counts as a disruption in my book for Clark on an evening that went completely off-script but saw him perform as if he was never the understudy in the first place.
Stat of the Game: The best way to score points is to sustain drives. And usually, you do that by converting third downs. The Cowboys converted 9-of-11 third-down conversions Sunday for an 81.8 percent, the highest single-game percentage since the NFL started tracking the stat 40 seasons ago. -Nick Eatman
The Kustodian's Kloset: I could use this opportunity to make a lazy take such as "fix the run defense" but, to be honest, I'll never say football things that aren't backed by science. Fact is, Justin Fields and the Bears only rushed for 200 yards because the Cowboys let them. Yes, you heard me, overall they let them rush for that many yards.
And it helped that missed holding calls - ask Dante Fowler – gave Fields carte blanche to take off and run on critical downs.
Having gone up 14-0 to begin the game and then 28-7 before things tilted [read: were tilted] in the Bears favor, they knew Chicago would have to throw themselves out of the multi-possession chasm and, as such, they sold out against the pass and essentially told the Bears "we don't care how much you run and burn the clock" - resulting in gobs of rushing yards that had little to no actual value toward the outcome of the game.
Hell, even the third-down efficiency was fixed, the Cowboys finishing 9-for-11 on third downs (82%) and I'm willing to shrug off two of the penalties (see above) which leaves them with only four on the afternoon. It was the most complete offensive-defensive tango we've seen thus far from the Cowboys, so the kustodian's kloset is clean going into a well-earned bye week.