It never seems easy with this bunch, but at least the final score was a nice change of pace for Dallas fans accustomed to tight outcomes with their Cowboys.
In taking care of the struggling Chicago Bears, 31-17, in front of 90,554 fans and a prime-time television audience, the Cowboys defeated an opponent by at least two touchdowns for the first time since a 44-17 victory over the rival Redskins in the final game of the 2014 campaign.
The Bears came into this matchup banged up with starters such as Jay Cutler, Danny Trevathan, Eddie Goldman and Lamarr Houston sidelined, so the Cowboys seemingly had an advantage right out of the gate. Then again, the home team wasn't completely healthy either when news came down before the game that starting left tackle Tyron Smith would be sidelined with back tightness, as would cornerback Orlando Scandrick, who is battling hamstring issues. In addition, not coming back out for the second half was starting left guard La'el Collins after he suffered a right foot sprain.
Thrown in wide receivers Dez Bryant and Cole Beasley being shaken up on separate plays during Dallas' first drive of the game, and there was more than enough worry about what might lie ahead. A team that was averaging 23 points per game coming into this one could ill-afford a loss of such offensive weapons. But both wideouts soon returned to help with the eventual route, which started with the team totaling 24 points in the first half alone.
Rookie quarterback Dak Prescott continued his outstanding play, completing 79.1 percent of his passes for 248 yards with both a rushing and passing touchdown. But taking top honors for the night was perhaps fellow rookie Ezekiel Elliott. The running back totaled 140 yards off of 30 carries, a 4.6 yard per carry average, for the first 100-yard rushing effort of his career.
Overall, Dallas came out on top on the stat sheet as well, posting 447 total yards of offense to 390 for the Bears. The Cowboys also had more first downs, (25 to 21), fewer penalties (4 to 6) and a greater time of possession (35:19 to 24:39) than their opponent.
Just how dominant were the Cowboys through the first two quarters? They put up points on each of their four possessions, beginning with that opening series that saw Prescott cap off a 10-play, 75-yard drive by bullying his way into the end zone from 1-yard out for his second career rushing score.
That was later followed by a 49-yard field goal from Dan Bailey and then rushing scores from both Lance Dunbar and Alfred Morris, Dallas going into the half with a commanding 24-3 lead. That effort gave the Cowboys seven rushing touchdowns in just 10 quarters of play this season. Last year, the team totaled only eight rushing touchdowns over the entire 16-game schedule.
But given that performance, perhaps the Cowboys thought they had the game wrapped up. Maybe they figured Chicago would roll over and call it a night. Whatever the case, Dallas came out of the break and produced a rather sloppy third quarter.
It started after Terrance Williams hauled in a 47-yard pass from Prescott, only to then fumble it away, which the visitors recovered. That resulted in an 11-play, 63-yard drive for the Bears who finally reached the end zone for their first touchdown of the game.
Then later in the quarter when Dallas recovered a Chicago fumble deep in enemy territory, they were unable to move the chains and asked Bailey to come out for a 47-yard attempt. He uncharacteristically pulled it left, the Cowboys stumbling toward the fourth quarter up 24-10.
But as the clock turned over into the final frame, Prescott and company went on a much-needed 10-play drive that marched 88 yards and ate up 6:35 of time. The possession ended with a nice strike to Bryant on a slant over the middle, the receiver then diving over the goal line for a comforting score. The 17-yard completion was Prescott's first touchdown pass of his young career.
Chicago bounced right back and added another touchdown to its tally, but it was too little too late. And although the Cowboys offense couldn't mount much of an attack the rest of the way, the defense held down the fort, which included recording another turnover, this time defensive end Benson Mayowa pouncing on a Brian Hoyer fumble to thwart another potential threat.
And with that, Dallas improved to 2-1 on the season and moved into a tie for second place in the NFC East. They'll now head to San Francisco to take on the 49ers next Sunday afternoon.
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.