Having a winning record doesn’t promise the Dallas Cowboys as spot in the NFL playoffs, so there’s not a whole of a lot to celebrate. And yet beating the Chicago Bears 41-28 has brought them to nine wins in a season for the first time in five years, led by Tony Romo and DeMarco Murray, looking unstoppable against one of the worst defenses in the league.
After losing to the Eagles on Thanksgiving, the Cowboys complicated things for them, finding themselves out of the six teams for the playoffs. The 8-8 curse, their record in each of the last three seasons, was hanging over their heads. The win in Chicago doesn’t promise anything, but at 9-4, the Cowboys move a little bit closer towards ending their four-year drought from the postseason. The Bears loss to the Lions on Thanksgiving made sure they had nothing left to play for this season.
It was another depressing home game for Bears fans as they see their team fall to 2-4 at Soldier Field. Just like in their losses to the Patriots and Packers, they get blown out very quickly before putting on some garbage time points in the end. The Cowboys held a 35-7 lead by the end of the third quarter, before three touchdowns by the Bears – a Cutler pass to Alshon Jefferey, a Matt Forte run and a Jay Cutler run made the score look a bit more respectable. The 5-8 record this season tells a better story, with the Bears en route to what looks like their first losing season since 2009.
Romo was close to perfect with 21-of-26 for 205 yards and three touchdowns passes, gliding through his first December test, with the Cowboys advancing easily on almost every drive, especially in the second quarter. Romo mostly threw the ball to Dez Bryant (six receptions for 82 yards) and DeMarco Murray (10 receptions for 49) but two of his touchdown passes went to Cole Beasley, becoming his second favorite target among receivers, and another was thrown to Gavin Escobar.
Murray was the busiest player on the Cowboys offense, getting a total of 41 touches. He ran for 179 yards and a touchdown, going for over 100 yards an 11th time this season, tying him with the franchise record that belongs to Smith. It was his fourth game with over 200 yards from scrimmage, tying another Emmitt Smith record. Murray got 166 of his rushing yards between the tackles, the third most by any player in the NFL this season, and the most for the Cowboys since Murray’s breakout performance against the Rams in 2011.
So while everything was cheery and happy for the Cowboys, handling the Bears’ pathetic attempt at blitzing with ease (9-of-10 for 114 yards and a touchdown against the blitz, sacked just once), the Bears had another typical day of bad defense, poor to non-existent running game and Jay Cutler turnovers. Cutler threw an interception, Matt Forte fumbled the ball once, the Bears finished with only 35 rushing yards. Just a regular day under Marc Trestman in the 2014 NFL Season.
The 8-8 jokes can now stop, although it won’t really matter if the Cowboys don’t make the playoffs again. With the NFC being the way it is and the Cowboys behind the Eagles in the NFC East, even an 11-win season might end unhappily for them, although it’s hard to believe that doing so well in the remaining games (winning at least two of them) will keep the Cowboys from playing in the postseason.