IRVING, Texas -- With the tape from Monday night's loss digested, I wanted to take a look at the Bears' second possession of the third quarter – the straw that broke the camel's back.
With the Cowboys still in the ball game, 27-14, Dwayne Harris brings a kickoff back to the Bears' 47-yard line to set the offense up in outstanding field position. Tony Romo and the Dallas offense proceed to gain a total of six yards, and, facing a 4th and 4 from the Bears 41, Jason Garrett elects to punt.
This gives the ball back to the Bears at their own 10.
The Bears open in the drive in base formation with two backs and two receivers with Martellus Bennett at the tight end. At the snap, Josh McCown uses a play action fake that hold the Cowboys linebackers in place, as Bennett starts up the field, working outside and away from Kyle Wilber who is in the chase position.
Bennett is able to sit down between Orlando Scandrick and Wilber for a simple pitch and catch for a gain of 15. To start the drive, Martez Wilson is on the field for DeMarcus Ware and he is able to get some late pressure but not enough to hurt McCown.
Bears coach Marc Trestman decides to now put "11" personnel on the field, and Monte Kiffin counters with his nickel package with Sterling Moore now in the slot for B.W. Webb. Alshon Jeffery is lined up wide right with Bennett inside of him.
At the snap, the secondary drops into zone coverage, with Bruce Carter playing underneath Jeffery, who has exchanged routes with Bennett. McCown is looking in that direction all the way and is going to try and fit the ball between Church and Carter, who both are in perfect position. McCown throws the ball right into Carter's hands near eye level. The ball bounces off his hands and to the turf, allowing the Bears to fight another down.
The Bears get back into their base personnel and run the ball to Matt Forte, who is stuffed at the line. Kiffin slants his defensive line away from the strength and there is confusion between Mills and Rosario about who to block.
Jarius Wynn pops free to take on the block of Fiammetta in the backfield. Wilber, scraping to the outside, is able to meet Forte in the hole for no gain.
Now facing a critical 3rd and 10, the Bears go to "12" personnel with a very tight formation. Kiffin has nickel personnel on the field and at the snap brings pressure through the "A" gap with Sean Lee and is playing "Man Free" behind it.
Carr is on the outside right matched up with Brandon Marshall, and he does a solid job battling him down the field. As they get past the five-yard mark, Carr puts his hand on Marshall's right shoulder, as he tries to stop his route to come back to the inside.
Marshall is just too strong for Carr as he has to try and grab him to control him. Carr is able to get his left hand inside to knock the ball away which ends up in the hands of Sterling Moore, who dropped off coverage to help.
Moore returns the ball to the Bears 17, which would put the Cowboys in great shape to get back in the game, but defensive holding was called on Carr and the Bears get a fresh set of downs.
The Bears come to the line in "12" personnel with offensive guard Eben Britton as the extra tight end. The Cowboys stay in their base defense and drop seven in the zone. Trestman tries to sneak Jeffery on an out and up, but Carr is reading McCown the whole way and is able to work over to knock the ball away from him to make it 2nd down.
The Bears try and run on the next play with Forte, but Nick Hayden is able to work down the line and make the stop for a gain of one. On the play, Sean Lee helps Hayden with the tackle and once again injuries his neck and is now done for the game.
That stop sets up a 3rd and long again for the Bears, as McCown brings them to the line, in "11" personnel. Wide receiver Earl Bennett is lined up tight left with Moore over the top of him. The Cowboys once again rush four with a twist but are playing two deep behind it in zone.
Bennett runs up and curls five yards over the ball in the middle of the field. The linebackers are five yards beyond that with Sims dropped an extra five yards beyond that to pick up Forte out of the backfield. McCown fits the ball in between Moore and Carter two yards from the first, but he is able to burst ahead to convert the 3rd and 9 and gain a first down.
This is where you have to give the Bears coaches a great deal of credit at this point, because they now realize that Sean Lee is out of the lineup and they ran the ball seven of the next eight plays. Forte for seven, Forte for 10, Bush for nine, Bush for five, Forte for five. [embedded_ad]
The Bears were able to work the ball from their own 45 to the Cowboys 4 by just pounding the ball at this defense. Along the way, there was a missed tackle by Carr, Sims getting blasted out of the hole by guard Kyle Long, and Long again knocking Wilber past the hole which allowed Forte to have a clear path up the field for a 12 yard gain.
It was completely clear that the Bears' plan was to simply keep running the ball at this Cowboys defense because there was no Lee or Carter there to keep them from doing that.
With the ball sitting on the Cowboys 4, Trestman came up with a well-designed play that was the perfect complement to how they were running the ball. He sent his "11" personnel onto the field with Martellus Bennett and Earl Bennett, along with Jeffery to the right side.
Before the snap, he brings Jeffery in motion inside and has him stop in the backfield with Forte. At the snap, the line all blocks to their left as Forte sneaks underneath going to his right as Jeffery gets a fake from McCown running left. McCown pulls the ball and begins to sprint to his right with Forte in the flat.
Scandrick is the corner to that side, sees the fake and begins to react. He is quick enough that he is equal to Forte as he receives the ball from McCown. Scandrick drives on the ball but Forte is able to shake him off and works his way into the end zone, capping the 90 yard drive.
To add insult to injury, the Bears decide to go for two and match up Brandon Marshall against Brandon Carr wide to the left, with Earl Bennett inside of him. At the snap, Marshall takes three steps up, then breaks into the end zone.
Carr is playing the route like he is expecting help inside but he gets none. With no pressure on McCown, it is a simple game of pitch and catch to the receiver that is posted up two yards deep in the end zone.
The drive, for the Cowboys, was a back-breaker. Garrett's decision to punt the ball to the Bears on 4th and 4 was a mistake. The defense had not stopped the Bears on offense all night, so giving them the ball at their own 41 was really no different.
The 14-play, 90-yard drive that took eight minutes off the clock in the third quarter sealed the Cowboys fate in this contest. What should have been an opportunity to put pressure on the Bears was nothing more than another harsh dose of reality that on this night.
The better team was the Chicago Bears.