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Bearing Down For Litmus Test


Imagine how he feels when they have to punt. But then, of the Cowboys' 22 tangible possessions in two games - not counting sitting on the ball at the end of a half or game - the Cowboys have scored 14 times. That's a 64-percent rate. That means scoring a tad more than one out of every two times they've had the ball. 

And get this: In both games, the Cowboys have scored on seven of their 11 tangible possessions. 

Go on. 

So what beautiful symmetry we have heading into Sunday's 7:15 p.m. (CDT) nationally-televised game on NBC, Da Bears, who don't give up Da points, awaiting inspection in Game 3 of this eye-opening Cowboys offense no one knows for sure just yet is for real or not. 

The NFL's No. 4 total offense vs. the NFL's No. 5 total defense. The NFL's No. 1 scoring offense vs. the NFL's No. 4 scoring defense. The defending NFC champs vs. the team which had designs on taking down last year's NFC's top seed had it simply gotten out of Seattle alive. 


Well, the Cowboys might be scoring on 64-percent of their possessions, but Bears opponents are going three-and-out 37-percent of the time. The Cowboys might have scored something on all nine of their red-zone possessions this year, but since 2004 Chicago opponents have scored only 73.8 percent of the time and this year have allowed opponents only three touchdowns and no field goals on seven trips inside their 20. The Cowboys might as well just throw the ball on first down, since Chicago opponents are averaging but 1.77 yards per first-down carry. 

And get this: While the Cowboys have won their past four road games and five of the past six, the Bears have won 16 of their past 20 homes games, playoffs included. 


Well, how can you beat a night game just across Lake Shore Drive from Lake Michigan? Or the history, Halas-Landry, Sayers-Dorsett, Butkus-Jordan? 

Sweet stuff. 

"Dallas-Chicago," says NBC analyst John Madden, as if already salivating at this match-up. "A lot of people say the Dallas Cowboys are America's team. They've been called that for years. Maybe America's team is really the Chicago Bears? Bears-Cowboys, that just sounds like NFC football." 

For real, and maybe on this night we find out if this Cowboys offense, sans household names, is for real. Because if you can score in Chicago you can score anywhere. 

That will be the storyline, and NBC's Al Michaels already has put it out there: "As I look at it right now, how good is Dallas?" But then, if the Cowboys are good enough to win this game, can you imagine the Bears starting off the season 1-2? 

Something has to give - Cowboys offense or Bears defense. 

"It's a big challenge for us to see where we're at," Witten said, knowing his job as a receiver might not be as difficult with Chicago safety Mike Brown already out for the season. 

"We look forward to the challenge," said Owens, who caught eight passes for 110 yards and a touchdown the last time he faced the Bears (2004, with Philadelphia). "Everybody knows the caliber of defense they have. We just need to go up there and play, and we know everybody is going to be watching." 

That's for sure, this game a high-profile litmus test for Cowboys history and today's offensive legitimacy. 


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