Bears

Crippled Bears struggle in loss to Cowboys, remain winless on season

Crippled Bears struggle in loss to Cowboys, remain winless on season

ARLINGTON, Texas — Maybe the Cowboys will be OK without quarterback Tony Romo this time. The future of the Dallas running game with Ezekiel Elliott looks pretty good, too.

Dak Prescott led scoring drives on all four Dallas possessions in the first half before throwing his first career touchdown pass in fellow rookie Elliott's first 100-yard game, and the Cowboys beat the Chicago Bears 31-17 on Sunday night to snap an eight-game home losing streak.

With his second straight win, Prescott doubled the number of victories the Cowboys (2-1) had in 14 games without the injured Romo over three seasons before the fourth-round pick showed up.

Prescott's first TD pass was a 17-yarder to Dez Bryant for a 31-10 lead in the fourth quarter, and he's up to 99 throws without an interception to start his career. Philadelphia's Carson Wentz has 102, and those are the two highest career-opening totals for a rookie in NFL history.

"Dak's handled every opportunity he's had right from the start really, really well," coach Jason Garrett said. "No different tonight."

Brian Hoyer had trouble moving the Chicago offense early with Jay Cutler sidelined by a sprained right thumb as the Bears fell behind 24-3 at halftime and dropped to 0-3 for the second time in two seasons under coach John Fox.

Making his 27th career start for his fourth different team, Hoyer was 30 of 49 for 317 yards - a good portion of that with the game out of each late in the fourth quarter - and threw for two scores to Zach Miller.

"We haven't played a complete game," Fox said. "This week was the reverse of what we've had. We played very poorly in the first half."

[MORE BEARS: View from the Moon - Bears take another wrong step in loss to Cowboys]

Elliott finished with 140 yards on 30 carries, including a 14-yard run when he hurdled safety Chris Prosinski. The Cowboys kept giving him the ball while trying to work the clock with a two-touchdown lead in the fourth quarter a week after he was benched because of two fumbles in a win over Washington.

"Made a lot of good runs tonight, a lot tough runs, a lot of NFL runs," Garrett said. "He's physically tough. He's mentally tough."

It didn't even bother Prescott that Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith missed just the second game of his six-year career after his back tightened up during the week.

Prescott was 19 of 24 for 248 yards in Dallas' first home win since last year's opener, which was a week before the first of two broken left collarbones that kept Romo out of 12 games last season.

Romo is expected to miss about another month after breaking a bone in his back in the preseason.

Prescott had one of three rushing touchdowns for the Cowboys, who have seven this season after getting eight all of last year, when they finished 4-12.

Because the Bears fell behind again, they couldn't do much with the running game. They had just 15 carries for 73 yards and lost leading rusher Jeremy Langford to an ankle injury in the second half.

Bears prove defense still matters with masterful shutdown of Rams

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USA TODAY

Bears prove defense still matters with masterful shutdown of Rams

A day after that 54-51 Rams-Chiefs barnburner on Monday Night Football last month, Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio was asked if he thought that game was a watershed moment for the pass-happy, offense-oriented NFL.

“I think it’s just we live in such a won-week news cycle in the NFL,” Fangio said, dismissing the thought. “Let’s see what happens next week.”

It wasn’t next week, but three weeks later, Fangio’s group proved great defense can still beat great offense in today’s modern NFL.

The Bears’ defense suffocated Jared Goff, neutralized Todd Gurley, owned the line of scrimmage and powered a 15-6 win over the 11-2 Rams at Soldier Field Sunday night. Goff was picked off four times — by Roquan Smith, Eddie Jackson, Kyle Fuller and Prince Amukamara — and finished with a passer rating of 19.1, the worst of his career (which includes his horrendous rookie season). Gurley was a non-factor, rushing 11 times for 28 yards while catching only three passes for 30 yards.

An offense that had only scored fewer than 30 points in two games this year was held to two measly field goals and was thoroughly discombobulated by the Bears’ defense all night. Sunday was the first time the Rams' offense failed to score a touchdown in the Sean McVay era.

The standout performances came from every unit. Eddie Goldman’s safety was a major momentum shift at the start of the second half, staking the Bears a two-point lead and giving them the ball back for a drive that led to the only touchdown of the game. Akiem Hicks was a menace, as usual, while Roy Robertson-Harris and Jonathan Bullard both had productive games.

Khalil Mack forced a fumble and combined with Leonard Floyd to make Goff miserable in pockets that consistently collapsed around him. Smith had that interception and was all over the field, while Danny Trevathan was key in limiting Gurley’s production.

And Fuller, Amukamara, Jackson, Adrian Amos and Sherrick McManis — who played the second half with Bryce Callahan injured — made sure the Rams weren’t able to get a spark.

This night was all about the league’s best defense dominating the league’s best offense in front of a national audience in primetime. And it served a warning for the high-octane offenses of the NFC: The Bears are a force to be reckoned with when they play in the playoffs in January.

Because, yes, the Bears are going to the playoffs. They don’t have anything clinched yet, but with nine wins and a lagging pack of wild card contenders (behind the Seahawks and Vikings), there’s not a realistic scenario in which this team doesn’t end its eight-year playoff drought. Also: If the Seahawks beat the Vikings on Monday night, the Bears will be a win or a Vikings loss away from clinching the NFC North.

But this Bears team, on Sunday night, played like a group that isn’t going to settle for just reaching the postseason. This is a group that should have designs on making a legitimate run in January on the back of a side of the ball that’s been frequently left for dead in NFL circles this year.

Maybe, just maybe, defense still matters. And if it matters in the playoffs? The Bears have a shot and doing more than just making it to January.

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WATCH: Bradley Sowell scores 2nd Big Guy Touchdown in 2 Weeks

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NFL on NBC

WATCH: Bradley Sowell scores 2nd Big Guy Touchdown in 2 Weeks

The Bears' red zone offense never ceases to amaze. 

This week? Backup lineman Bradley Sowell gets his number called: 

The misdirection? Genius. The execution? Terrific. The celebration? Sublime. 

Big guy touchdowns!