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Bears Play Like Team Of Mini Ditkas, Beat Cowboys 45-28

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Dec 10, 2013 4:30PM

On a bitter cold night that saw legendary Bears tight end and Super Bowl-winning head coach Mike Ditka's jersey and sweater retired, the Bears offense was red hot and stole the show from Da Coach. The Bears scored on every possession except the game-ending kneel down and crushed the Dallas Cowboys 45-28 at Soldier Field on Monday Night Football.

Dallas scored on the game's opening drive when quarterback Tony Romo connected with Dez Bryant on a two-yard TD to cap a 75-yard drive. The Bears answered with an Earl Bennett four-yard reception from Josh McCown, who was starting his fourth straight game while Jay Cutler nurses a high ankle sprain. The Bears made the score 14-7 with McCown scrambling seven yards and helicoptering into the end zone for the score.

Jason Witten caught a pass from Romo to tie the game but the Bears scored twice more in the final minutes of the first half. Robbie Gould gave the Bears the lead with a 27-yard field goal before Alshon Jeffery made the play of the night. The Bears got the ball back with just 47 seconds remaining and McCown marched the offense down field quickly before connecting with Jeffery in the back corner of the end zone. Jeffrey managed to snatch the ball between two defenders and keep both feet planted in-bounds as he fell. That touchdown gave the Bears a 24-14 lead at halftime.

Gould added another field goal to cap the Bears' opening second half drive and Chicago appeared to be pulling away from Dallas. After a Dallas punt, the Bears drove 90 yards to score another touchdown and take a 35-14 lead. While McCown had been successful through the air all night, this drive was dominated by the running of Matt Forte and Michael Bush. Forte scored on a swing pass from four yards out, and a two point conversion gave the Bears a three-touchdown lead. The Bears struck quickly on their next possession, taking advantage of excellent field position and a personal foul against the Cowboys to take a 42-14 lead when Michael Bush caught a pass and ran 17 yards for the score.

Chicago's defense had trouble against the run yet again and the Cowboys' DeMarco Murray and Joseph Randle pounded through the Bears line repeatedly as they scored early in the fourth quarter. Gould kicked his third field goal of the night to cap the Bears' scoring and Dallas tacked on a late score with Kyle Orton under center in garbage time to make the score look closer than it actually was.

Josh McCown was again spectacular in relief of Jay Cutler, passing for 348 yards while completing 27 of 36 passes. He threw for four touchdowns and ran in another, didn't turn the ball over (although one pick was called back on a penalty, and Dallas dropped two more) and ended the night with a gaudy 141.9 quarterback rating. McCown spread the ball around, with Brandon Marshall catching six passes for 100 yards, Jeffery catching five for 84 yards, and Matt Forte with 7 catches for 73 yards. With 102 yards on the ground, Forte racked up 175 yards of total offense. Both Mashall and Forte also ecliped the 1,000 yard marks for receiving and rushing on the season, respectively.

It was no surprise that the defense struggled against the run on Monday night. Dallas tallied 198 yards on the ground, and averaged over seven yards a carry. Demarco Murray gained 146 on just 18 carries while Joseph Randle added 53 on nine carries. The defense was more successful against the pass, holding Romo to just 104 yards through the air and limiting Dez Bryant to just 2 catches for 12 yards.

With McCown and the rest of the offense clicking, there's sure to be a quarterback controversy as Jay Cutler looks close to returning. So far, head coach Marc Trestman has repeatedly stated that Cutler is his starting QB and McCown has reiterated he's just the back-up. But given the way McCown has filled in, making a switch now could end up being yet another Trestman move that costs the Bears a game. The Bears looked like a playoff team on Monday Night Football and with the win pulled even with the Detroit Lions atop the NFC North. (Detroit still holds the tiebreaker based on their sweeping the Bears this season.)

It's not inconceivable for the Bears to win one more game in their last three and steal the division while the Lions stumble. The question is which QB is more likely to helps the Bears down the stretch? Many would say go with McCown and his 109.8 QB rating—third-best in the NFL—even if he is just the back-up.