Monday, December 9, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Chicago Bears
By Michael C. Wright
CHICAGO -- A few quick thoughts on the Chicago Bears' 45-28 victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Monday night at Soldier Field.
What it means: Game on for the Detroit Lions in the NFC North title race. The Lions slipped up by losing at Philadelphia on Sunday and opened the door for Chicago to get back into the race. The Bears kicked it open by destroying the Cowboys. The Lions close the season with Baltimore and the New York Giants at home, before playing the finale at Minnesota on Dec. 29. One Lions mistake could lead to the Bears sneaking away with the division if they can maintain momentum.
Take advantage of the smallest mishaps: That's what the home team did in the first half. After Chicago took a 17-14 advantage on Robbie Gould's 27-yard field goal with 1:38 left in the first half, the Dallas Cowboys had three incompletions on the ensuing drive, which allowed the Bears to take possession again with 47 ticks remaining.
Instead of sitting on the three-point lead, the Bears mashed on the gas with Josh McCown hitting Alshon Jeffery -- who was being draped by two defenders -- for a 25-yard touchdown with 17 seconds left to go up 24-14. With the quick score, the Bears went into the locker room at the half with momentum.
What was better for the Bears is they got the ball back to start the second half, and scored on that drive as well to go up 27-14 on a Gould 34-yard field goal.
Potent WRs: Jeffery and Brandon Marshall became the first set of Chicago receivers to gain 1,000 yards apiece since 1995 (Curtis Conway and Jeff Graham). Jeffery entered the game with 70 catches for 1,109 yards, but Marshall needed 10 yards against the Cowboys to reach 1,000.
With Marshall leading the way with 100 yards on six receptions, the duo combined for 184 yards and a TD.
McCown pinpoint accurate: McCown started Monday night's game by connecting on 8 of 10 passes for 145 yards on throws traveling more than 10 yards in the first half. The quarterback's eight deep completions in the first half tied the most McCown had completed in one game.
McCown's play allowed the Bears to reel off 24 points in the first half, which is quite a difference considering the Bears hadn't scored more than 23 points in any of their previous four outings leading into Monday night.
McCown finished with a passer rating of 141.9, completing 27 of 36 passes for 348 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions to go with a rushing TD. He's passed for 1,055 yards over the past three games with eight TDs and only one INT.
What's next: The Chicago Bears take the day off Tuesday before returning to the facilities to begin preparations Wednesday for Sunday's game at Cleveland. The Bears face a short turnaround in the first of back-to-back road games before the Dec. 29 season finale against the Green Bay Packers.