The Bears offense held its own Sunday in Dallas, but the defense struggled throughout a 49-29 loss to the Cowboys at AT&T Stadium.
While the Cowboys (6-2) jumped out to a 28-7 lead, reaching the end zone on their first four drives, the Bears (3-5) scored 16 unanswered points to kickstart a comeback in the third quarter. But a 7-yard score by running back Tony Pollard followed by linebacker Micah Parsons' touchdown on a fumble recovery put the game out of reach.
Coach Matt Eberflus called the defensive performance "unacceptable" as the Bears allowed season-highs of 42 points and 442 yards of offense.
"We're going to have to look at ourselves with a critical eye and make sure we're doing the right things down in and down out and practice those things during the week to get better," Eberflus said. "But it's not good enough."
Both teams were efficient in their rushing attacks as the Bears totaled 240 yards on the ground while the Cowboys tallied 200 yards. Running back Khalil Herbert recorded 99 yards on 16 carries and a 12-yard touchdown run. However, Pollard led the game with 131 yards on 14 carries and three touchdown runs.
Quarterback Justin Fields completed 17 of 23 passes for 151 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 60 yards and a score, generating a 120.0 rating. Cowboys QB Dak Prescott racked up 250 yards with 21 of 27 completions and two touchdowns. Prescott also added a rushing TD.
"I think we're growing, getting better each and every week," Fields said of the offense. "I'm just proud of the guys, the way they fought. We were down early but they didn't waver. We kept the same mentality and just chipped away, and I thought as a whole group we played well."
The Cowboys took a 7-0 lead on their opening possession with a 7-yard touchdown run by quarterback Dak Prescott. Running back Tony Pollard fueled the drive with 26 rushing yards and a 16-yard catch. On third-and-2 at the Chicago 7, Prescott faked a handoff to Pollard then ran left, getting a big block by tight end Dalton Schultz on cornerback Kindle Vildor, to reach the end zone untouched.
Prescott's 21-yard touchdown pass to receiver CeeDee Lamb put Dallas up 14-0 with 5:19 left in the first quarter. On third-and-9, the Cowboys' only third down of the drive, Prescott dropped back from the Chicago 21 and delivered a deep ball to Lamb, who beat safeties Eddie Jackson and Jaquan Brisker to the end zone. Prescott completed all six of his pass attempts on the 8-play, 69-yard drive.
The Bears cut down the deficit to 14-7 with a 3-yard rushing touchdown from Fields. Receiver Velus Jones Jr. had an 18-yard run on a jet sweep then Fields scrambled for 15 and 14 yards to reach the red zone. On second-and-3, Fields executed a designed run play, running off left tackle and finding the end zone with just over a minute into the second quarter.
Dallas extended their lead to 21-7 as Pollard ran up the middle for an 18-yard touchdown run with 10:50 remaining in the half. The Cowboys went 75 yards in six plays as Prescott connected with receiver Michael Gallup for 17 yards, then broke free for a 25 yards on a third-and-1 quarterback sneak.
A fourth straight touchdown drive put the Cowboys up 28-7 with 6:48 to play in the first half. Prescott continued to challenge the Bears' secondary, completing a 15-yard pass to Lamb on third-and-8 then hitting the receiver with a 22-yard pass two plays later. On second-and-6 from the 11, running back Malik Davis caught a short pass and appeared to reach the end zone, but the call was overturned as he stepped out of bounds at the 1-yard line. Prescott faked a handoff to Davis on the following play, then hit tight end Jake Ferguson for the score.
With 40 seconds left in the first half, Fields connected with receiver N'Keal Harry for a 17-yard touchdown to get the Bears within 28-14. On first-and-15, Fields was intercepted by Trevon Diggs, but a roughing the passer penalty on Chauncey Golston saved the Bears' drive, giving them a first down at the 17. On the next play, Harry cut across the field and found him for the sore, his first in a Chicago uniform.
On the first play of the Cowboys' ensuing drive, Jackson came up with a timely takeaway to give the Bears another scoring opportunity just before halftime. The safety picked off Prescott's pass over the middle intended for Lamb at the Dallas 45 then returned it 21 yards to the 24giving him his fourth interception of the season.
Fields then attempted two passes to the end zone, but neither Dante Pettis nor Equanimeous St. Brown could haul them in. With three seconds remaining, kicker Cairo Santos hit a 36-yard field goal and the Bears went into the break trailing 28-17.
"Our offense, I think [we] performed pretty well the entire day," Eberflus said. "They had a couple three-and-outs, but for the most part, drove the ball, did a nice job in situations. Obviously, we cut that lead down to 11 points with the Eddie interception at the very end [of the half] to kick the field goal. That was really good. And we told the guys at halftime, 'This is a game, it's 11 points and we can certainly dig ourselves out of this.'"
Following halftime, the Bears defense forced Dallas' first punt of the game with a three-and-out, leading to a 12-yard touchdown run by Herbert, which closed the gap to 28-23 with 9:42 left in the third quarter. The drive nearly ended on the first play as Herbert appeared to fumble with Dallas recovering the ball, but the call was overturned after the replay showed that Herbert fumbled the ball initially, but re-established possession before his knee was down. Fields then connected with receiver Darnell Mooney for a 36-yard gain to the Dallas 25, the longest play of the game. On first down from the 12, Herbert took the handoff, ran left, then cut back up the middle to score. However, Fields was sacked on the ensuing two-point conversion try.
After the Bears' 16 unanswered points, Pollard ran in a 7-yard touchdown with 6:51 left in the third quarter, putting the Cowboys up 35-23. On third-and-9, Brisker jumped offsides and Prescott took advantage of the free play, connecting with Schultz for 30 yards. Prescott went right back to Schultz for a 14-yard gain before hitting Lamb with a 12-yard pass to set up Pollard's TD.
Dallas linebacker Micah Parsons then came up with a momentum-swinging play, taking a fumble recovery in for a touchdown to give Dallas a 42-23 lead with five minutes remaining in the third quarter. On third-and-16, Montgomery caught a short pass, but linebacker Leighton Vander Esch stripped the ball and Parsons recovered it at the Chicago 36. Fields jumped over Parsons, but did not touch him down, allowing the linebacker to get up and return the ball for the score.
"It's my fault for just hopping over him," Fields said. "I should have tackled him. I can't remember the last time I made a tackle. So, I just have to be aware in that situation and make sure he's down."
Fields threw his second touchdown pass of the game, completing a 10-yard pass to tight end Cole Kmet in the end zone to bring the deficit down to 42-29 with 13:40 to play. The 13-play, 75-yard drive was fueled by a 15-yard run from Jones on a sweep, a 17-yard completion to Mooney and a 12-yard run by Fields.
The Cowboys came right back as Pollard broke free for a 54-yard rushing TD, extending Dallas' lead to 49-29 with 10:46 remaining in the game. Pollard accounted for four of five plays on the 79-yard drive.
Watch the Bears' Week 8 matchup against the Dallas Cowboys unfold through the lenses of our sideline photographers at AT&T Stadium.