By Shawn Lealos

The Dallas Cowboys headed into their Thursday Night Football game with the Chicago Bears in a must-win situation. Taking a 35-7 lead into the fourth quarter, it looked like the Cowboys were on their way to a huge win. However, after the Chicago Bears scored 21 points in the fourth quarter, it looked like the Dallas December bad luck was returning. Luckily for Dallas, they held on to win 41-28 and head into a big game next week for the NFC East lead.

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Here is a look at the Cowboys grades for the big Thursday night win.


This was the best Dallas Cowboys offensive performance of the season. After opening the game with two punts, they then scored on every drive until the final one where they knelt down to end the game. Those drives all ended in five touchdowns and two field goals and Dallas just dominated the Chicago Bears defense every step of the way.

DeMarco Murray was the star of the game, running the ball 32 times for 179 yards and a touchdown while also leading the team in receptions with nine for 49 more yards. The rushing yards was the most of the season for Murray and he is now back on pace for a 2,000 yard rushing season. Murray needs to average 131 yards a game over the final three to hit the mark.

Dez Bryant was second on the receptions list and first for yards with six catches for 82 yards in the game. However, the big star was Cole Beasley, the Cowboys third receiver, who finished the game with three receptions for 42 yards and two touchdowns. Tight end Gavin Escobar also chipped in with a touchdown reception and Jason Witten pulled down two balls for 26 yards. Joseph Randle even ran for a touchdown in his only carry of the game.

Looking at those numbers, it is clear that Tony Romo was back on track. With Murray taking the focus off a pass rush, the Bears only sacked Romo one time during the game. The Cowboys didn’t turn the ball over in the game and Romo completed 21 of 26 passes for 205 yards and three touchdowns. It was an almost perfect 138.0 quarterback rating.

Grade: A+


If you just look at the first three quarters, the Dallas Cowboys defense was fantastic. They gave up a few big pass plays to Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffrey early, but after Marshall was injured and transported to a local hospital, Jeffrey almost disappeared. Former Cowboys tight end Martellus Bennett picked up the slack and finished the game with 12 receptions for 84 yards and a touchdown.

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However, it was Matt Forte that kept giving Dallas fits. He only ran for 26 yards, but scored a touchdown and picked up first downs when needed. He also caught eight receptions for 74 yards.

But, when the fourth quarter was added in, the Dallas Cowboys defense almost cost Dallas the game. They allowed Chicago to score three touchdowns and make a two-point conversion in the final quarter. The only reason the Bears didn’t win the game was because of Orlando Scandrick. One series after Scandrick had a sideline meltdown after the Bears scored a touchdown, he intercepted a Jay Cutler pass in the end zone to end the game.

That was the second turnover of the game, as Anthony Spencer also forced a Matt Forte fumble earlier in the contest. The Cowboys defense bent, and almost broke, but held on for the win.

Grade: C+

Special Teams

This week, the special teams were very important. For the easy stats, Dan Bailey hit both of his field goal attempts in the game and all five extra points. Chris Jones only had to punt twice and put one inside the 20. Dwayne Harris was average, with one kick return for 21 yards and a one-yard punt return.

On the other side, Chicago got to return six kickoffs and Marc Mariani averaged 22.7 yards per return to keep the Bears in good field position through the game. Luckily, that didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. What did matter was the fact that the Bears attempted three onside kicks and recovered one of them when the ball went through the arms of Escobar. That led to one of the Bears fourth quarter touchdowns. Dallas recovered the other two onside kicks, one by Dez Bryant and the other by Cole Beasley.

Grade: B+

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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.