Don't Forget About These Five Plays: Clutch First-Down Pickups Led To Early Points

CHICAGO – The Cowboys had several big highlight plays against the Bears, including a few from Cole Beasley, as they improved to 9-4 on the season.

But all games have those hidden plays that can be forgotten, yet still end up playing a huge factor in the outcome. Here are five that changed this game:  

Scandrick stops Forte short –Orlando Scandrick made sure Matt Forte didn't get another yard on a third-and-4 pass late in the first quarter. Forte was stopped a yard short, forcing a Bears punt that was partially blocked by Bruce Carter. The Cowboys were able to get the ball near midfield and eventually scored their first touchdown. But Scandrick's tackle got the defense off the field and put the offense in position to score.

Murray's fourth-down run – Usually a fourth-and-1 from the Bears' 13-yard line early in the game would result in head coach Jason Garrett electing to kick a field goal. But when he asked the crew to measure what was an obvious fourth-and-short, it was clear he had intentions of going for the first. Giving the ball to Murray resulted in a first down and probably gave him the confidence to do it again on fourth-and-goal from the 1. It seemed to send a positive message to his team that settling for field goals was not the objective on this night. 

Fourth down to Marshall – While this was a big play in extending Chicago's drive to tie the game, it also turned out to be Marshall's final play of the game. He had 61 receiving yards and was hurting the Cowboys' secondary before he left the game with a rib injury. He's one of the best wide receivers in the NFL and having him out of the game changed the way Chicago could move the ball. Not saying the Bears would've won, but having him out of the game was a big loss for the team.

First down pickup by Witten – The Cowboys had a great drive to end the first half, which included four third-down conversions. The biggest was by Jason Witten, who had a 19-yard reception on third-and-15 from the Cowboys' 47. Without that pickup, the Bears get the ball back and can perhaps drive for a field goal. Instead, the first down kept the chains moving and led to a touchdown by Beasley before the half.

Spencer's strip of Forte – With the Cowboys leading 14-7 coming out of the half, the Bears had a shot to get back in the game in the third quarter. But Anthony Spencer had arguably his best play of the season when he hustled to fetch Matt Forte in the open field and strip the ball from the Pro Bowl running back. The fumble was recovered by Sterling Moore, who returned it 17 yards to set up another touchdown by Beasley.

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