Week 4 Report Card: A total success
Week 4 Report Card: Chicago Bears 34, Dallas Cowboys 18
In this case, it's not so much about the numbers as much as the intent and the fact Chicago's ability to move the ball on the ground kept the club from becoming one-dimensional, which could have led to a difficult night in pass protection. Matt Forte and Michael Bush combined for 81 yards as the former averaged 4 yards per attempt.
Jay Cutler deserves credit for challenging receiver Brandon Marshall and the entire offense to do a better job of playing within the system. That played a role in the duo connecting seven times for 138 yards and a touchdown. Cutler finished with a passer rating of 140.1 and threw a pair of touchdown passes as four receivers (Marshall, Kellen Davis, Alshon Jeffery and Devin Hester) caught at least three passes apiece while averaging 10.7 yards or more per catch.
The Bears stuffed Dallas' rushing game, and forced the Cowboys to get into passing mode fairly early. That allowed Chicago to unleash the pass rush more effectively. DeMarco Murray averaged 2.2 yards per attempt, and as a team the Cowboys ran the ball 14 times for 41 yards, with more than half of those yards coming on two carries.
The pass defense should get a gold star, too. Tony Romo passed for 307 yards, sure. But he finished with a passer rating of 60.1 as the Bears picked off five passes, with Charles Tillman and Lance Briggs taking picks to the house for TDs. Major Wright picked off two passes and now has three INTs in his last two games. The Bears sacked Romo only once, but some of the errant passes he threw came as a result of pressure from the front four.
Robbie Gould kicked two field goals, and hasn't yet missed an attempt thus far this season. Devin Hester averaged 25 yards on two kickoff returns, but received only one shot to return a punt (8-yard gain) Adam Podlesh finished with a 40-yard net average and put two punts inside the Cowboys 20.
The plus comes from the fact the Bears put together such a strong performance on the road against a top opponent in front of a national audience. Offensive coordinator Mike Tice found a play-calling rhythm quickly, and that led to the offense pretty much moving the ball at will. The Bears finished with 360 net yards against the top-ranked defense in the NFL and led time of possession on the road. Defensively, the Bears came out with a game plan that shut down the Cowboys running game and pressured Romo into mistakes. The Bears now lead the NFL in takeaways (14), and solid coaching definitely plays a role in that.