Bryant, Cowboys Recognize Opportunity Waiting Upon Arrival In Chicago

IRVING, Texas – It's going to be about 32 degrees when Dez Bryant and the Dallas Cowboys land in Chicago on Wednesday evening.

Cold though it might be – both on Wednesday and during Thursday night's game against the Bears – Bryant and Co. are still looking at roughly a 30-degree difference in temperature from 2013. When the Cowboys made this trip exactly a year ago, they were playing at sub-zero temperatures, when factoring the wind chill.

"That's a different level. That's crazy," Bryant said. "It was so cold out there last year. It got to us a little bit, but we're not going to let that be a factor this year."

This year's conditions sound like a walk in the park compared to that miserable night, which saw the Cowboys freeze up in a 45-28 loss. That said, the conditions should still be harsh for an offense that couldn't get going the last time it took the field.

"We just know that we have to get back to playing our ball," Bryant said. "Nothing personal. If it is, it's with each other, ourselves – basically just wanting to get back to playing ball the way that we know that we can."

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That could mean a variety of different things, depending on how far back you look. The Cowboys couldn't do much right last week against Philadelphia, as the run and passing attacks both struggled.

Dallas has also seemingly forgotten how to execute on third downs. After converting 71 percent of their third downs during their six-game win streak, the Cowboys are down to just 34 percent. They've only converted on 12-of-35 in the three games since Tony Romo returned from his back injury.

"You want to keep the chains moving, and that's something we do work on a lot," Bryant said. "We call plays, we run plays that we think is going to work on third down and try to execute the best way we can."

The Bears defense waiting in Chicago isn't enjoying its best season, but it is stopping opponents on third down with some success. Chicago is holding its opposition to 41 percent on third downs, good enough for No. 16 in the league.

For an offense that had just one gain of more than 20 yards last week, the Cowboys are going to need to find more success, and on a more consistent basis this time around. That's likely to start with Bryant, who had killed two consecutive opponents before being mitigated against the Eagles.

"We want to make plays, we're going to try our best to make plays," he said. "Like I said – if it's there, we're going to take it. We're going in and we're going to play smart ball."

If the Cowboys can do that – on the road, in harsh conditions – it will go a long way toward bolstering their playoff chances. It'd also be a first step over the December road block that's haunted them for most of Bryant's tenure here.

"Everybody wants to get better – even just by the little things, not making the cold weather a big issue," Bryant said. "Just go out there and understand what's important, and that's the opportunity that we have to go out and get into the playoffs."

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