By Shawn Lealos
The Dallas Cowboys won two straight games and held the NFC East title in their grasp. All they had to do was match the Philadelphia Eagles for the rest of the season and they would win and go to the playoffs. Dallas was also getting healthy at the perfect time and they faced a Chicago Bears team missing their starting quarterback. However, while the Eagles won their game on Sunday, Dallas fell in an embarrassing 45-28 blowout loss to the Chicago Bears.
Here is a look at the team grades for the Monday Night Football loss.
Offensive Score: C-
Tony Romo has always been great in November, but somehow always seems to fall apart in December. After last weekend’s big win over the NFC East rival New York Giants, it looked like things might be turning around. During a very cold Monday Night Football game, where the wind chill was sub-zero, Romo looked horrible. He finished the game completing 11 of 20 passes for 104 yards and three touchdowns.
Three touchdowns might seem good, but watching the game told a different story. Those nine incompletions were almost all overthrows. Romo was throwing over the head of Dez Bryant and DeMarco Murray in key situations when Dallas needed to move the chains. Romo was also very gun-shy, hitting the deck one too many times instead of fighting for more yards. Even worse, after Romo would overthrow a receiver, he would then bark at him like it was the receiver’s fault.
If Dallas wants to win this year, they need Romo to step up and be a better leader on the field than what he showed tonight. Plus, Dez Bryant finished the game with two receptions for 12 yards and was only targeted four times.
On the positive side, DeMarco Murray looked fantastic. He carried the ball 18 times for 146 yards while Joseph Randle added nine carries for 53 yards. This is the kind of balanced attack Dallas needs to win games, but unless Romo gets more accurate on his passes, it won’t work. While some might blame the cold weather on making it hard to hold the ball, one look at Josh McCown tells another story.
Defensive Score: F
Dallas defense is getting healthy at just the right time, but from the look of this game, it doesn’t seem to matter. Even with playmakers like Sean Lee, DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher on the field, the Dallas Cowboys couldn’t stop backup quarterback Josh McCown from shredding their defense. It is starting to look like Monte Kiffin is the problem with this team.
McCown finished the game throwing for 348 yards and completed 75 percent of his passes. McCown also threw for four touchdowns and ran for another in the game. It seems the Bears didn’t need Jay Cutler to beat Dallas, because they just relied on two of the best wide receivers in the NFL to do it for them.
Brandon Marshall caught six passes for 100 yards and Alshon Jeffery caught five for 84 yards and a touchdown.
Also, once again, Dallas couldn’t stop the running game either as Matt Forte carried the ball 20 times for 102 yards while catching seven passes for 73 more yards and a touchdown through the air. Add in touchdowns for Earl Bennett and Michael Bush, and this was just a huge game for the entire Bears offense, and the latest embarrassment for the Cowboys defense.
Dallas only sacked McCown once and had no turnovers in the game.
Special Teams Score: B
One person Dallas had to be glad to see back is special teams superstar Dwayne Harris. Without him, there was no spark in the kick and punt returns. In this game, Harris had four kick returns for an impressive 25.8 yards per return, with a long of 43 yards. It was nice to see Harris back in the game. Dan Bailey never got a chance for a field goal, but he hit all four extra points and Chris Jones averaged a decent 37.3 yards per punt into some brutal winds.
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Shawn S. Lealos is a freelance writer who graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2000 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. He writes for a variety of national publications and has over 15 years of sports journalism experience. Follow Shawn on Twitter @sslealos. Examiner.com.