ARLINGTON, Texas – On the first play from scrimmage Monday night in Dallas, Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott raced up the middle through a gaping hole for 21 yards.
It was all downhill from there for the Bears run defense, which allowed 199 yards and three touchdowns on 41 carries in a 31-17 loss to the Cowboys at AT&T Stadium.
"What it really comes down to is playing assignment football," said defensive end Akiem Hicks. "Staying in your gaps, playing your technique and making sure we're putting ourselves in position to execute our plays. I think in some areas we were lacking and that's where they took advantage of it."
Tracy Porter looks on as Dez Bryant catches a pass in the Bears' 31-17 loss to the Cowboys.
The success the Cowboys had on the ground enabled them to sustain drives and put points on the board. Dallas scored three touchdowns and one field goal on four first-half possessions and dominated time of possession in the game 35:19-24:41.
"We've got to control the run game first before we can have fun in the backfield getting after the quarterback," said outside linebacker Willie Young.
Defense shorthanded: The Bears defense played without two key starters in inside linebacker Danny Trevathan (thumb) and nose tackle Eddie Goldman (ankle).
Making his NFL debut, rookie fourth-round pick Nick Kwiatkoski was credited with one tackle while starting in place of Trevathan. Will Sutton registered five tackles and one pass deflection while filling in for Goldman.
"You definitely miss a stout player such as Eddie Goldman," Hicks said. "But I will say this: Will Sutton definitely brought his hard hat and came to work today and did the best job he could do."
Cornerback Kyle Fuller (knee) missed his third straight game. Starting in his place, Jacoby Glenn recorded seven tackles and one pass breakup and generated the Bears' only takeaway by forcing a fumble that Adrian Amos recovered. But Glenn also got beat by receiver Cole Beasley for a 29-yard catch to the Bears' 1, setting up a Cowboys touchdown.
In a rush: The Bears gained 59 of their 73 yards rushing on two plays, a 36-yard run by Jordan Howard and a 23-yard scamper by Jeremy Langford.
Langford left the game with an ankle injury after rushing for 31 yards on three carries. Howard ran for 45 yards on nine attempts.
Asked about Howard's performance, right guard Kyle Long said: "He's done a really good job since he's been here. We've got a bunch of good backs. We've just got to block for them. You give them an inch and they'll take a mile."
News and notes: Tight end Zach Miller led the Bears with eight catches for 78 yards and two touchdowns. Receiver Kevin White caught six passes for 62 yards. … Connor Barth made his first field goal as a member of the Bears, a 34-yarder, his only attempt of the game. … The Bears struggled once again on third down, converting just 2-of-10 chances (20 percent) while allowing the Cowboys a 45 percent success rate (5 of 11).
Feeling frustrated: Cornerback Tracy Porter was asked if the defense's confidence has been shaken following Sunday night's disappointing performance.
"I don't think we're shaken," Porter said. "I mean we're frustrated. We know that we're a lot better defense than what we showed today and what we showed in the past two weeks for us to have this 0-3 start. We know the talent that we have on this defense, but talent doesn't win. We have to execute and play together."