With a share of first place in the NFC North on the line, the Bears delivered their most impressive performance of the season on a frigid Monday night at Soldier Field.
Rebounding from last Sunday's overtime loss to the Vikings, the Bears scored on all eight of their possessions before taking a knee on the final play of a 45-28 rout of the Cowboys.
"I was really proud of the way we came off a very, very difficult loss last week in Minnesota, on multiple levels," said coach Marc Trestman. "We have a tremendous locker room of guys who truly have a sense of brotherly love and who work together and don't point fingers."
|Brandon Marshall caught six passes for 100 yards in Monday night's win over the Dallas Cowboys. Click to view photos from the game.**|
With the win, the Bears (7-6) snapped a two-game losing streak and tied the Lions (7-6) for the division lead, though Detroit owns the tiebreaker after sweeping the season series. The Packers (6-6-1) remain in third place, a half-game back.
"We needed this," said left tackle Jermon Bushrod. "The way our division was looking, we needed to come out here and needed to win, and we just have to carry it over and take this thing one day at a time and one week at a time."
The temperature at kickoff Monday night was eight degrees with a wind chill of minus-nine. But the Bears appeared unfazed by the brutal cold, especially on offense.
Quarterback Josh McCown had another stellar game, accounting for all five Bears touchdowns. He completed 27 of 36 passes for 348 yards and set career highs with four TDs and a 141.9 passer rating. The 11-year veteran also scrambled for a 7-yard score.
McCown spread the wealth, throwing touchdown passes to Earl Bennett, Alshon Jeffery, Matt Forte and Michael Bush.
After Tony Romo's 10-yard touchdown pass to Jason Witten tied the game 14-14 midway through the second quarter, the Bears scored the next 28 points, ultimately taking a 42-14 lead on McCown's fourth TD pass of the game, a 17-yarder to Bush early in the fourth period.
In compiling those 28 unanswered points, the Bears ran 38 plays for 294 yards and 19 first downs while the Cowboys ran 13 plays for 34 yards and two first downs.
"When you practice and envision your offense working the way it's supposed to, we just went out there and executed it," Bushrod said. "It just [doesn't] get much better than that."
The Bears took command by scoring 10 points in a 1:23 span late in the first half to break a 14-14 tie. After Robbie Gould's 27-yard field goal and a stop by the Chicago defense, Jeffery made a spectacular 25-yard TD reception in the right corner of the end zone.
Leaping high over defensive backs B.W. Webb and Jeff Heath, Jeffery hauled in McCown's perfectly-thrown pass while getting both feet inbounds before tumbling to the ground. The remarkable catch gave the Bears a 24-14 lead with just :10 remaining in the half.
"I thought the big change in the game came when our defense made a stop late in the second quarter and then we were able to get Alshon the ball late in the half to score," Trestman said.
After a slow start, the injury-depleted Bears defense played its best football of the season, making a key stop late in the first half and two more in the third quarter.
The run defense continued to struggle, allowing DeMarco Murray to rush for 146 yards on 18 carries. Romo completed 11 of 20 passes for 104 yards and three touchdowns, but threw for only 43 yards after the Cowboys tied the score 14-14 in the second quarter.
Even though the beleaguered defense finally stepped up, the Bears offense was the story, amassing season highs with 45 points and 490 yards. The unit also recorded 33 first downs, tying the franchise record set in a 61-7 rout of the Packers on Dec. 7, 1980 at Soldier Field.
Forte rushed for 102 yards on 20 carries and caught seven passes for 73 yards, Brandon Marshall caught six passes for 100 yards, and Jeffery had five receptions for 84 yards.
The Bears repeatedly sustained drives by converting 8-of-11 third-down opportunities (73 percent), leading to a slow night for Adam Podlesh, who did not punt in the game.
"That's the way we approach every day," McCown said. "Believe it or not, that's the standard we set for ourselves. That's what you want to do. Every offense in the NFL, they go out there wanting to score on a good drive and I don't think we are any different.
"Some nights it comes to you and you are able to execute. There's a standard we are chasing all the time and to play at it and I think we are getting closer to that."