ARLINGTON, Texas – The Cowboys came out strong from the start, led by rookies Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott, but others found a way to contribute as Lance Dunbar, Alfred Morris and Dez Bryant all found the end zone.
But like all games, there were a handful of plays that could go unnoticed, yet changed the outcome. Let's take a closer look at five that affected this one.
Key fourth-down conversion –On the Cowboys' first drive, it appeared the offense had already converted a first down on a Cole Beasley catch over the middle. But Chicago challenged the spot and it was ruled to be just short, setting up fourth down and a foot from the Bears' 24-yard line. The Cowboys didn't hesitate and gave the ball to Elliott, who showed some playmaking ability by bouncing it to the outside for a 5-yard run and the first down. The Cowboys scored two plays later for a 7-0 lead.
Early Bears penalty wipes out gain – The Cowboys held a 7-0 lead and while the Bears were looking for an answer, a first-down catch by Kevin White of 18 yards was negated by an illegal use of hands penalty on tackle Charles Leno. Instead of first down near midfield, it was third-and-14, which led to another punt. Dallas took over at its 25-yard line and drove for another field goal to pad the lead.
Dak scramble leads to points –On the first play of the second quarter, the Cowboys had a third-and-3 at their own 35-yard line when Prescott kept the play alive with his legs. After standing in the pocket for several seconds looking for an open receiver, the rookie rolled to his left and finally found some room to run, taking off for 17 yards down the sideline into Chicago territory. Once again, the Cowboys were able to stay aggressive and Prescott lofted a pass to Beasley for 29 yards to the 1, which set up another touchdown, this time by Dunbar for a 17-0 lead.
Double defensive stops – Momentum was starting to swing in the Bears' favor after a touchdown in the third quarter and a defensive stop to get the ball back. But on two straight possessions, the Cowboys' defense stiffened. First, J.J. Wilcox forced a fumble after blasting a receiver over the middle. While Dallas didn't capitalize and Dan Bailey missed the field goal, the defense came up with another stop as the Bears entered Dallas territory. On third-and-10 from the 42-yard line, a swarming group of defenders rallied to stop the Bears again and force another punt. The Cowboys then marched the field for a game-clinching touchdown.
Roughing the passer extends drive – The Cowboys led 24-10 and were looking to make it a three-score game. On a second-down pass that fell incomplete, Prescott was dragged to the ground late by Willie Young of the Bears, resulting in a 15-yard penalty. With the ball moved up now to the 25, the offense kept up the pressure and Prescott eventually found Bryant over the middle for a 17-yard touchdown for his first career TD pass. The score put the game out of reach with the Cowboys up by 21 with 9:02 to play.
A look at some of our favorite photos from the Sunday Night Football matchup between the Chicago Bears and Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on Sunday, September 25.