It never seems easy with these Cowboys, but hey, a win is a win.
Licking their wounds after being manhandled by Philadelphia on Thanksgiving Day, the Cowboys turned the tables in Chicago, dominating the Bears for two quarters before hanging on in the fourth to come away with a much-needed 41-28 victory.
With the win, Dallas assured itself of breaking the dreaded 8-8 run of the last three seasons, the Cowboys improving their record to 9-4 on the year. The nine victories also matched Philadelphia for now, the 9-3 Eagles scheduled to host Seattle on Sunday.
In addition, Dallas provided a little payback after the Bears embarrassed the team last year in a 45-28 defeat, Chicago scoring on all eight of its possessions before kneeling down to end the game. Although they didn't make things easy on themselves late, the Cowboys returned the favor this time around, scoring on their final seven drives before kneeling down for the win.
DeMarco Murray had a field day for the Cowboys, rushing for 179 yards on 32 carries with a touchdown, while also adding nine catches for additional 49 yards. Murray actually had 22 touches on Dallas' first 30 plays.
With that kind of support, quarterback Tony Romo had a relatively easy and efficient day at the office. He threw for just 205 yards, but completed 21-of-26 pass attempts with three touchdowns.
In all, the Cowboys finished with 397 total yards of offense and held the time of possession, 31:55 to 27:32.
Oh, but that Dallas defense. After looking good through three quarters, holding Chicago to just one score, they simply had no answer for Jay Cutler and Co. in the fourth frame. The Bears quarterback, who only had 100 passing yards at the half, finished with 341 yards through the air, completing 32-of-46 attempts.
And most of that damage was done without star Chicago receiver Brandon Marshall, who left in the second quarter after suffering a rib injury. He still finished with three catches for 61 yards.
In his place, former Cowboys tight end Martellus Bennett proved tough for Dallas to handle as he hauled in 12 passes for 84 yards and a touchdown, receiver Alshon Jeffrey, who torched the Cowboys last season, also recording six catches for 95 yards and a score.
At least Dallas was able to shut down Matt Forte and the Bears' running game, Chicago earning only 35 yards rushing of their 376 yards of total offense.
The beginning of this game, however, was a far cry from the wild finish. After not doing much on their opening two possessions, the Cowboys finally got rolling. The first scoring drive showed a little moxie on the part of head coach Jason Garrett, as he twice went for it on fourth-and-1. Murray moved the chains to the Chicago 9 on the first conversion before later scoring from 1-yard out to give Dallas a 7-0 lead.
That was followed on their next possession with the Cowboys burning 6:05 off the second quarter clock, Romo converting a huge third-and-15 play with a 19-yard strike to tight end Jason Witten. He then capped the drive by hitting Cole Beasley, who caught the pass at the 1 and then fought his way in, diving to stretch the ball across the goal line to give the visitors a 14-7 lead going into the half.
Those two scores were sandwiched around the Bears' first touchdown on the night, a series that was somewhat bittersweet when Marshall had to leave the game after taking a knee to the back from Barry Church. This came after Marshall had made an amazing, juggling 42-yard catch, which was followed four plays later by another 15-yard grab on fourth-and-7 that put Chicago on the Dallas 15.
Despite the loss, the Bears regrouped, if briefly, Cutler finding former Cowboys tight end Martellus Bennett wide open in the end zone for a 12-yard touchdown toss, the score tying the game at the time.
Whatever hope the Bears had appeared to be quashed early in the third quarter. On Chicago's third play after the break, defensive end Anthony Spencer stripped the ball away from Bears running back Matt Forte, cornerback Sterling Moore scooping it up at the Chicago 48 and returning it 17 yards to the 31-yard line.
Given the gift, Romo quickly capitalized. On third-and-3, he avoided an untouched blocker then lofted a ball to Beasley on the right sideline, who came down with the pass and then dove for the pylon, earning his second score of the night, the first multi-touchdown game of his career.
When the Cowboys then scored on their fourth straight possession, the rout was seemingly on. Dwayne Harris nearly earned his first punt return for a touchdown on the season, as he broke free down the left sideline to the end zone. But, a block in the back penalty nullified his celebration.
No matter, the offense soon enough had the points. Starting at his own 44, Romo opened the series with a 43-yard bomb to Dez Bryant. Then with plenty of time to find an open man, he finished things off by hitting little-used Gavin Escobar in the back of the end zone, Dallas having scored three touchdowns in its last eight snaps to now comfortably lead, 27-7.
Backup running back Joseph Randle got the honors of scoring on the team's fifth straight possession. Subbing for Murray, who needed a breather after running 27 yards and then 6 on back-to-back plays, Randle broke up the middle then cut left to the outside for a 17-yard score, his second of the season, 35-7.
But with the Cowboys now perhaps feeling a little too sure of themselves, they proceeded to let Cutler pick apart the Dallas secondary, the Bears quarterback leading his team to the end zone three times in the fourth quarter.
Cutler first hit Jeffery on a 27-yard pass, but the extra point was blocked. After Dan Bailey kicked a 27-yard field goal for the Cowboys soon after Beasley recovered a failed on-side kick, the Bears then managed to score twice in a span of just over a minute.
They first came on a 12-play, 67-yard drive that resulted in a Forte run from 1-yard out, the back then converting the two-point conversion to narrow the advantage to 38-21. That soon became a very uncomfortable 38-28 score when Chicago recovered its on-side kick this time, Escobar unable to come down with the ball, which allowed the Bears' Dante Rosario to recover it at the 50-yard line.
Helped by a roughing the passer call, Chicago quickly reached the end zone, Cutler crossing the goal line on a scramble to the right with just over six minutes still left in the game.
Thankfully, Bryant came down with the next on-side attempt and with that the Cowboys were able to eat up some clock and get into field goal range for Bailey, his 27-yard field goal good to provide a little more breathing room.
Chicago kept the pressure on and were on the doorstep again, but this time Orlando Scandrick jumped in front of a pass intended for Josh Morgan, bringing down the interception in the end zone to secure the 41-28 win.
Now sitting at 9-4, the Cowboys will enjoy a 10-day break before traveling to Philadelphia for a rematch with the Eagles, who will be coming off a tough game against the Seahawks on Sunday. Again, first place in the NFC East will be on the line.