Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields presented a dual-threat challenge to the Cowboys defense not unlike Jalen Hurts and the still-undefeated Eagles, and it led to the Cowboys allowing the most points they have all season. The 29 points Dallas surrendered only had this game in doubt for a short time though, as the offense had their breakout game with Dak Prescott and Tony Pollard. The defense added seven points of their own on Micah Parsons’ fumble return touchdown, sacked Fields four times, and got off the field on nine of 15 third down attempts to still make their presence felt.
Through seven weeks, the Cowboys have dealt with all kinds of adversity on both sides of the ball, lineup changes most notably at quarterback to start the season and now at running back without Ezekiel Elliott, with the bye week coming at the perfect time for a reset to also get key players healthy.
With this middle portion of their season being defined by how they play against the NFC North, the Cowboys are 2-0 so far with road tests at the Packers and Vikings in the weeks following the bye.
With the Cowboys starting a new winning streak now under Prescott, here are some notes on their week eight win vs. the Bears.
- The opening tempo from the Cowboys offense was perfectly scripted by Kellen Moore, and they were able to sustain enough offense to put the game away with two touchdowns in the second half. The emphasis on getting Michael Gallup more involved was clear early, catching a slant to convert a third down on the opening drive which ended with a Prescott rushing touchdown. The Cowboys were able to score on their first four possessions by sticking to the base looks that have worked all season, but creating even better looks off of them with Pollard, Prescott, and their trio or versatile tight ends. The fake to Pollard that set up Prescott’s rushing touchdown worked because he had a 17-yard run and 16-yard reception earlier in the drive, and even a Malik Davis blitz pickup that helped a third-down conversion to CeeDee Lamb set up another 22-yard gain to Lamb off play-action to Davis.
With the full threat of Prescott’s arm back in the lineup, all of the run and play-action looks that worked for Cooper Rush are now that much more proficient, as the Cowboys have kept defenses in their base looks trying to defend all of the options they have on the field at any time.
- This was yet another game the Cowboys didn’t get the benefit of many holding calls, working against an offensive line that had allowed a league high 31 sacks. Fields’ mobility frustrated the Cowboys pass rush even more at times, rushing for 60 yards and a touchdown. The Bears comeback from down 28-7 started with a drive extended by Chauncey Golston’s roughing the passer call. The penalty negated a Trevon Diggs interception, and with the Cowboys also having Anthony Brown off the field for this drive, the Bears were able to take advantage of Kelvin Joseph in coverage for a N’Keal Harry touchdown. As teams continue to throw away from Diggs, Brown has mostly held his own, but it will be a theme for the rest of the season as Dallas’ secondary depth is tested without Jourdan Lewis.
Parsons’ touchdown was another play he was held on the edge for, with the pursuit to the ball and need to keep Fields in the pocket on full display for a Dan Quinn defense that has speed on all three levels.
- The Cowboys offense easily showed the most explosiveness they have all season with their 49 point output Sunday, seeing Tony Pollard go off for a career high 131 yards. Pollard matched his career high in carries with 14, again proving he can handle a full workload without losing the burst that had this offense rolling in the first half.
The Cowboys needed just seven and six plays respectively to match two of the Bears touchdowns with scores of their own. The only unanswered points for the Bears came on the end of half sequence with a touchdown and field goal following Prescott’s interception. The third quarter touchdown was set up by consecutive catches of 30 and 14 yards to Dalton Schultz, as his game has been lifted the most by having Prescott back. This offense may still be at their best playing ball control offense that sustains drives with Ezekiel Elliott and timely passes to Schultz, but proving they can hold their own in more of a shootout with the element Pollard provides was a huge step as they look to keep pace with the Eagles and Giants following the bye.