By Jay Betsill
The Dallas Cowboys were blown out of Cowboys Stadium in a 34-18 loss to the Chicago Bears in front of ESPN’s Monday Night Football audience. The Cowboys 74th appearance on Monday night was marred by five Tony Romo interceptions that had the offensive unit looking dazed and confused. The five picks matched the Cowboy quarterback’s career high (Romo is the only active NFL QB with a pair of five interception games). For the evening, Romo completed 31 of 43 passes for 307 yards with one touchdown to go with the five picks.
In all fairness, not all of the picks were on Romo. Dez Bryant ran a “stop and go” on what should have been a “hot route” in response to a blitz pickup that resulted in a pick to Bears CB Charles Tillman that was returned for a touchdown, giving Chicago a 10-0 lead. The ensuing possession sawDallasmarch 80 yards on nine plays with Romo hitting Miles Austin for a 10-yard touchdown with 14 seconds remaining in the first half. It would be the Cowboys biggest highlight of the night.
At the 6:25 mark of the 3rd quarter,Chicagohad its first fumble of the season when LB DeMarcus Ware sacked Bears quarterback Jay Cutler. Mario Butler recovered forDallas, only to have the Cowboys offense give the ball back a play later. Romo was hit from behind by Grapevine resident Henry Melton and the ball found its way to the grasp of Bears Pro Bowl LB Lance Briggs. Briggs went on to return the interception for a touchdown — his first pick returned for a TD since 2005.
The fumble aside, Cutler was nearly flawless in the second half, completing 11 of 12 passes for 219 yards and two touchdowns. That included a 34-yard score to Devin Hester beating rookie cornerback Morris Claiborne to start the second half and a 31-yarder to Brandon Marshall with 6 1/2 minutes left.Marshallhad a great game, catching seven passes for 138 yards, while being covered most of the night by Cowboys prized free agent cornerback Brandon Carr.
While the offense will get the bulk of the blame for the defeat, there should be questions as to why the Cowboys defense continually had eight guys in the box against a team that does not focus on running the ball and had their top rushing threat, Matt Forte, at less than 100 percent. When Cutler and his receivers had their way with the Cowboys defensive backs, there was little to no adjustment made to counter the success of the Bears passing game.
Three Cowboys’ defensive starters were declared inactive before the game because of injuries: DE Kenyon Coleman (knee), DT Jay Ratliff (ankle) and LB Anthony Spencer (pectoral muscle). A fourth starter, safety Barry Church, suffered a season-ending Achilles tear in last week’s victory overTampaBay. LB Bruce Carter joined the list early in the game due to a left hip injury.
A positive to take from this debacle from the Cowboys perspective: Jason Witten — the NFL’s leader in drops — came out of his funk with 13 catches for 112 yards and a touchdown.
The Cowboys are going into their bye week with their next contest not until October 14th on the road at the Baltimore Ravens. The meaty schedule continues with another road contest againstCarolinafollowed by a home date with the defending Super Bowl champion Giants. It will be an interesting two weeks inDallasas Cowboys fans mull over the teams’ 2-2 start to the season.