8:30 PM ET, December 9, 2013
Soldier Field, Chicago, IL
The Chicago Bears, meanwhile, are headed in the opposite direction.
Looking to continue their quest for the NFC East crown, the visiting Cowboys go for a season-high third straight win Monday night against the slumping Bears, who will be without Jay Cutler yet again.
After pulling out a 24-21 road win over the New York Giants on Dan Bailey's last-second field goal in Week 12, Dallas (7-5) stormed back to beat Oakland 31-24 on Thanksgiving Day. DeMarco Murray ran for a career-high three touchdowns as the Cowboys erased a 21-7 deficit.
"I don't know how you can get any better practice with a lot on the line than to have a game like that," owner Jerry Jones said. "I think that's something our team can build on that's what you hope to have happen with three or four positive endings to maybe get ready to have a big year."
Dallas, which has won five of seven, remains neck-and-neck with Philadelphia for first place in the division. While Jones is hoping to see his team stay hot down the stretch, the Cowboys have compiled a 13-17 record in December since Romo took over as the starting quarterback in 2006.
Romo, who missed more than half of 2010 due to injury, is 11-15.
"We've always known that what they remember is what you do in December," Jones told the team's official website. "We need to change that. That was our goal this year. And we've got a chance to do something about it this year."
Coach Jason Garrett isn't putting too much stock into those past results.
"You hear me say this all the time, but we're focused on winning one game," Garrett said. "We want to play one good ballgame. That's really what we're focused on. We'll let everyone else figure out what the history of the world is."
It's been a rough couple weeks for the Bears (6-6), who were blown out 42-21 at St. Louis on Nov. 24 before suffering a wild 23-20 overtime defeat at Minnesota last Sunday. Chicago had a chance to win with just over four minutes left in OT but Robbie Gould missed a 47-yard field goal on second down.
While running another play or two may have put the Bears in better position, coach Marc Trestman doesn't regret his decision.
"I didn't do it from an analytics standpoint. I did it from having been around Robbie the entire year and knowing how he kicks the ball," Trestman said of Gould, whose field goal percentage of 85.8 ranks third-highest in NFL history dating to 1938.
Despite dropping six of nine, the Bears are just one game behind first-place Detroit in the North.
"We've got to put up a win in the win column," backup quarterback Josh McCown said. "The standings don't matter if you don't win football games."
Cutler has missed the last three games with a high left ankle sprain and was ruled out again despite practicing on a limited basis Thursday. McCown has played well in his absence, however, throwing for 923 yards, five touchdowns and one interception for a 103.8 quarterback rating in his last three games.
McCown had 355 yards against the Vikings, finding Alshon Jeffery 12 times for a team-record 249 yards and two scores. The Bears' passing game could be in for another big performance against the Cowboys, who are surrendering an average of 294.9 yards through the air to rank 31st in the NFL.
"There's a whole lot of football to be played. We show signs of having enough to finish, of playing offensively well enough to finish, of doing things we need to get done," Trestman told the Bears' official website. "But we haven't done it on a consistent basis over the last month. We've got to start on Monday night and do that. That was the message: Let's worry about what we can control and that's being at our best on Monday night against the Cowboys."
Chicago is seeking a third consecutive victory over the Cowboys after winning 34-18 in Dallas on a Monday last October. Cutler threw for 275 yards and two TDs while Romo was picked off a career high-tying five times.
Chicago is among the league leaders with 15 interceptions, but its run defense has been abysmal. The Bears are allowing an average of 205.2 rushing yards and 5.9 yards per carry in the last six games.
Bears defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff, who was signed Nov. 6, could be out for revenge against his former team. Ratliff was cut in October after spending the first eight years of his career with Dallas.
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|Avg Points Allowed||26.8||27.7|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||DAL|
|Rush Yds Allowed||DAL|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|Chicago leads 3-2|
|Oct 1, 2012||DAL 18, CHI 34|
|Sep 19, 2010||DAL 20, CHI 27|
|Sep 23, 2007||DAL 34, @CHI 10|
|Nov 25, 2004||DAL 21, CHI 7|
The Cowboys are 2-1 in primetime games this season heading into Monday night's matchup with the Bears, but Tony Romo's Total QBR in those games is the lowest of any quarterback in the NFL with at least three primetime starts this season.[+]
The Cowboys have allowed 24.9 1st downs per game this season, on pace to be the worst by any defense since 1981.[+]
With Jay Cutler ruled out of Monday night's game ... Josh McCown has actually outplayed Cutler this season although McCown's sample size is smaller.[+]
- Josh McCown was 7-of-9 for 105 yards and two touchdowns when throwing under duress. Coming into the game, he had two such touchdowns this season. - Matt Forte had his first career game with 100 yards rushing and 70 yards receiving. - Dez Bryant has a league-leading eight touchdowns this season on passes thrown into the end zone.
The Bears rank last in the league in rush defense (153.6 YPG) and Yds per rush allowed (5.01). Not only that ... they've allowed a 100-yd rusher in 5 consecutive games, one short of the NFL record.[+]
Most Consecutive Games Allowing 100-Yd Rusher
After Dez's TD on the opening drive - Dez Bryant has 20 TD catches in his last 21 games. His 31 TD catches since 2011 ranks 4th in the NFL
Josh McCown was 10-of-16 for 182 yards and a touchdown on passes traveling more than 10 yards downfield. The 10 completions on deep passes are the most McCown has had in a game (Jay Cutler completed 10 such passes in Week 5), and tied for the most the Cowboys have allowed in a game this season. --Josh McCown was 8-of-13 with a touchdown when targeting Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery on deep passes. --Tony Romo attempted four deep passes, six fewer than his average per game, against a Bears defense that had allowed the third-highest completion percentage on such throws coming into the game (56%).[+]
Passing More than 10 Yards Downfield, Monday
The Bears didn't punt once on Monday, the third team this season that went a whole game without being forced to punt... Two of the three have been against the Cowboys.
Matt Forte had 102 rushing yards Monday, 63 on runs outside the tackles. Forte exceeded 50 yards rushing outside the tackles for the fourth time this season, most in the NFL.[+]
DeMarco Murray rushed for 111 yards before contact Monday night, his second-most this season and the third-most in his career (the two higher games were both against the Rams). The Bears have allowed the most rushing yards before contact in the league.[+]
Bears Rushing Defense, 2013
Josh McCown was 22-of-30 for 280 yards and three touchdowns against four or fewer pass rushers. The Cowboys are the only team this season to allow at least three touchdowns against standard pressure in three different games.
The Cowboys are allowing an NFL-high 426.8 yards per game this season, most in the NFL. Their 5,549 yards allowed this season is the 2nd-most in NFL history through 13 games of a season, behind the 2012 Saints.[+]
Most Yards Allowed Through 13 Games - NFL History
Josh McCown leads the NFL in Total QBR this season. As a starter, his Total QBR in 20 points higher than Jay Cutler's as a starter this season.[+]
Bears Quarterbacks - In Games Started This Season
Josh McCown posted a 99.1 Total QBR on Monday Night Football, the highest Total QBR in a game by any Bears quarterback since 2006 (as far back as we have Total QBR data), and tied with Nick Foles for the second-highest Total QBR by any quarterback this season. McCown's Total QBR in 85.7 this season, best in the NFL among qualified QBs.[+]
Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery combined for 184 receiving yards tonight (162 in 1st half). They have combined for the most receiving yards by teammates this season.[+]
Most Combined Receiving Yards by Teammates This Season
Matt Forte has eclipsed the 1,000 yard rushing mark this season. It is Forte's 4th 1,000-yard rushing season with the Bears, second-most in franchise history behind Walter Payton (10). Through the Bears opening drive and 31 rush yards, Forte has 1,002 this season.
The Cowboys have allowed 4.8 yards per rush this season, 3rd worst in the league and their worst rate since 2000. That 4.8 yards per rush is on pace to be the Cowboys 3rd-worst rate in franchise history. Dallas has also allowed a 1st down on 28.4 percent of opponent rushes, their worst rate since at least 2001.
ESPN Stats & Information