For the first seven games of the season, the defense carried the Dallas Cowboys as the offense had to contend with Dak Prescott’s injury and a slow start in his first game back. Well, the rust was fully off when he took the field against the Chicago Bears, leading his team to a dominating 49-29 win. While Prescott did not put up huge numbers, he was very efficient, aided greatly by an outstanding game from Tony Pollard. Many had worried a bit about the inactives for the game, but Dallas would show they not only have talented starters but some solid backups. Now they go into the bye week at 6-2 with a chance to get a lot of the nicked up players closer to full health.
The game could not have started any better for the Cowboys. After receiving the opening kickoff, they put together a nearly flawless drive. They went uptempo and the Bears defense was back on its heels. Pollard was sharp in taking over the RB1 role with Ezekiel Elliott inactive, both running the ball effectively and catching a 16-yard pass. Then Prescott ran the ball seven yards for the first score of the game.
The defense forced a three and out, aided by an offensive pass interference against Chicago. The offense picked up right where they left off, driving from the 31 right down the field. This drive would be more through the air, with heavy use of Dalton Schultz and Peyton Hendershot. Prescott would cap things with a 21-yard touchdown throw to CeeDee Lamb.
The next possession for the Bears was much more effective. Coming into the game, Justin Fields was a big concern with his ability to run the ball, and that showed up this drive as he converted a couple of first downs and then got the touchdown as well running the ball.
But the Dallas offense was unstoppable. They needed just six plays to score another touchdown, highlighted by a Prescott sneak on third and one that turned into a 25-yard gain when he just bounced to the right after getting the first down and kept going. There was a momentary scare as he was evaluated after his left hand was stepped on at the end of the run, but he did not show much effect.
The defense would get another third and out on the next series. After Osa Odighizuwa sacked fields, a double pass failed and drew an illegal forward pass penalty. That got the ball back for the offense, and they did not slow down. This time, they went 54 yards down the field, with a one yard pass to Jake Ferguson giving them four touchdowns on their first four possessions.
Things looked well in hand with a 28-7 lead, but the last few minutes of the first half went sour. Chicago would convert a fourth down on the drive and then a Trevon Diggs interception was wiped out by a roughing the passer call on Chauncey Golston, who had tipped the pass. That would lead to a TD pass to N’Keal Harry. He beat Kelvin Joseph, who was filling in for an injured Anthony Brown.
Things just got worse for the Cowboys as they would get the ball back with 40 seconds left before halftime. Kellen Moore, who had called an outstanding game to this point, stayed aggressive. It backfired badly. Prescott would get picked on an attempt to go deep to Lamb. The ball would wind up on the 25, and though the defense would hold, the Bears would get a field goal to shave the lead to 11 points.
After halftime, the teams would exchange punts as the Cowboys failed for the first time all game to convert on third down. Dallas looked like they had a fumble recovery, but replay showed the ball carrier had regained possession before being tackled. Fields would complete a 36-yard pass on the next play, and Khalil Herbert would get into the end zone. The Bears went for two to try and cut it to a three-point game, but DeMarcus Lawrence would come untouched to level Fields before he could even get set.
Still, Chicago had scored 16 unanswered points to get it to a one score game at 28-23. Dallas needed an answer. it looked dicey as they would face a third and nine from their own 26, but Prescott would find Shultz for 30 yards to the Bears’ 44. The offense was back in gear, and Pollard would end the drive with a seven-yard touchdown run.
A stop on the next Chicago possession would go a long way toward taking control of the game again. They got a lot more than that as Leighton Vander Esch would strip the ball from David Montgomery, and then Micah Parsons would recover and realize that he was not touched. He got up off the field and ran 36 yards to the end zone. Justin Fields leaped completely over Parsons while he was down to allow the big play to happen.
It was not exactly expected that this game would turn into a shootout, but it was threatening to turn into exactly that. Dallas was mostly doing it through the air, while the Bears were using their running game, which is typical of them. There were too many times Cowboys defenders would just miss on tackles to allow Chicago to keep drives alive. And they continued to flounder against a mobile quarterback as Fields continued to make big gains on the ground, with just enough good passes mixed in. That would be the case as they go their fourth touchdown of the game on a pass to Cole Kmet to get within 13 points early in the fourth quarter. Things weren’t helped by both Donovan Wilson and Kearse leaving the field with injuries on consecutive plays.
The next drive by Dallas saw Jason Peters on the line, and Moore started going to the run more as he nursed that lead and wanted to take some time off the clock. It didn’t work out quite the way planned to waste time, as Pollard would bust through a hole on third and one and romp 54 yards for a touchdown. With the exception of the interception at the end of the first half, and the three and out on their first possession of the second, basically everything worked for the offense.
Defensively, it was a different story. They were gashed for over 200 yards rushing and had occasional difficulties getting to Fields when he was throwing, despite the sacks. They did get the big fumble return TD, but this was again a disappointing performance against a team they knew had to run the ball to have any success. Still, they got the ball back by denying a fourth down conversion with 5:12 left in the game that just about sealed the victory as Dallas had a 20-point lead. The fact that the Cowboys also exceeded 200 yards on the ground was a major point in getting this win, as was converting nine of eleven first downs. They seem well positioned for the playoff run in the second half of the season.