When they hosted the Cowboys in a prime-time game last December, the Bears scored on all eight of their possessions before taking a knee on the final play of a 45-28 victory.
A year later, Dallas turned the tables by scoring on seven consecutive drives with five touchdowns followed by two field goals before taking a knee in a 41-28 win Thursday night at Soldier Field.
With the game tied 7-7, the Cowboys scored 28 unanswered points in just under 13 minutes spanning the second and third quarters to take a commanding 35-7 lead. Tony Romo threw three TD passes, including two to Cole Beasley, and Joseph Randle added a 17-yard touchdown run.
View photos from the game as the Bears take on the Cowboys at Soldier Field.
The Bears rallied with three fourth-quarter touchdowns to cut the deficit to 38-28, but by then it was too little and too late to prevent them from dropping to 5-8.
"Obviously we have a very disappointed locker room in there," said coach Marc Trestman. "You can certainly see that as a football team, we're not doing the things in all three phases that we need to do to win on a consistent basis in this league, and certainly against a very good football team like the Dallas Cowboys."
The Cowboys (9-4) dominated on the ground, outrushing the Bears 194-35 as DeMarco Murray gained 179 yards on 32 carries while Kyle Long was limited to 26 yards on 13 attempts.
"We tried to run the football," Trestman said. "They certainly were making every attempt to try to stop the run. There were some run blitzes and some edge blitzes to try to knock us off. We missed a couple blocks along the way. That was evident."
Dallas relied mostly on Murray and a short-passing game as Romo completed 21 of 26 passes for just 205 yards with three TDs, no interceptions and a 138.0 passer rating.
"It was everything we saw in practice," said safety Ryan Mundy. "All I can really say is we didn't play well enough. There was something here, something there, a penalty here, penalty there. We gave up too many big plays and didn't get off the field when we needed to."
Asked whether he took solace in the Bears' late rally, defensive end Jared Allen said: "That won't even get you a cup of coffee, right? We've got to win football games. That's the bottom line. Defensively, we can't play like that. We can't give up (194) yards rushing. We've got to fix that."
Jay Cutler threw TD passes of 12 yards to Martellus Bennett and 27 yards to Alshon Jeffery and ran for a 10-yard score. But with the Bears trailing 41-28, Cutler's pass into the end zone intended for Josh Morgan was intercepted by cornerback Orlando Scandrick with 1:29 to play.
Since beating the Falcons Oct. 12 in Atlanta to improve to 3-3, the Bears have dropped five of seven games, losing by margins of 13, 17, 41, 28 and 13 points.
Asked how this season compares to others during his nine-year NFL career in terms of disappointment, Cutler said: "It's got to be No. 1, I would think. Expectations coming into this one were extremely high and since the first game we haven't done a good enough job week-in and week-out. So it adds up. With that being said, we can't couch it in. We've got to still continue to try to build on this and find ways to get better and better each week."
Cutler never dreamed that the Bears would be 5-8 and in last place in the NFC North.
"I'm still kind of surprised that we're in this situation," he said. "But if you look back at the games and kind of break things down, there's definitely instances where you see why we're here. It didn't happen by accident, that's for sure. But there's never been a point where four, five, six games into it I would sit here and say, 'Hey, we're going to be 5-8.' There was never a point."