Bears 34

(3-1, 1-1 away)

Cowboys 18

(2-2, 1-1 home)

Coverage: ESPN/WatchESPN

8:30 PM ET, October 1, 2012

AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX 

1 2 3 4 T
CHI 0 10 14 1034
DAL 0 7 3 818

Top Performers

Passing: T. Romo (DAL) - 307 YDS, 1 TD, 5 INT

Rushing: M. Forte (CHI) - 13 CAR, 52 YDS

Receiving: B. Marshall (CHI) - 7 REC, 138 YDS, 1 TD

Bears return 2 of Tony Romo's 5 picks for TDs to rumble to victory

Associated Press

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Lance Briggs plucked the ball out of the air and started rumbling down the field. As the Chicago linebacker approached the end zone, he fully extended his right arm over his head with the ball in his hand.

Briggs and the rest of those 30-something Bears defenders showed Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys how much they can still play.

Charles Tillman, another of the five defensive starters in their 30s, also returned an interception for a touchdown in the Bears' 34-18 victory Monday night.

"A lot of our older guys are playing really well right now because we understand everything so much more," said Briggs, whose 74-yard run was his first interception return for a TD since 2005. "Whether we've lost a step or some people believe we've lost a step, we make up for it in knowledge."

Although Romo was sacked only once, on the game's first series, he was pressured relentlessly and threw five interceptions. That matched his career high, first done five years ago in his first full season as a starter.

"Just outstanding play by our defense," Bears coach Lovie Smith said. "It seemed like everybody had a say in it. How about Lance Briggs? You guys didn't know he could run that fast."

Briggs' interception came in a wild two-play exchange of turnovers midway through the third quarter.

Bears quarterback Jay Cutler was nearly flawless after halftime, when he completed 11 of 12 passes for 219 yards and two touchdowns. That included a 34-yard score to Devin Hester to start the half and a 31-yarder to Brandon Marshall with 6½ minutes left.

Cutler was 18-of-24 overall for 275 yards. Marshall had seven catches for 138 yards.

Major Wright, who returned an interception for a touchdown in Chicago's previous game, had two of the five interceptions. D.J. Moore has nine career interceptions, three of them against Romo after getting another one Monday night.

"We have a pretty good feel for what their front is going to do, what their pressures were, what their coverages were," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "They're just very good at it. It's not very exotic."

Chicago's first fumble of the season came when Cutler was sacked by DeMarcus Ware and Victor Butler recovered at the Bears' 27.

On the very next play, Romo was trying to escape pressure when he was hit from behind by Henry Melton. The ball popped forward into the air, and Briggs grabbed it and scored to put the Bears (3-1) ahead 24-7.

"I haven't run that long in a long time, that far," Briggs said.

Once again, the Cowboys (2-2) are a .500 team. They also are one of the lowest-scoring teams in the NFL with only 65 points going into their bye week, and then they play four of their next five games on the road.

"This has to be a wake-up call for us. I don't say that nonchalantly. It has to be," Cowboys tight end Jason Witten said. "You can't bounce back and forth like this, and try to compete come December-time. You can't do it. We have been in that situation before. You cannot do it. And we know that, and we'll get better."

Since the start of the 1997 season, Dallas is 122-122 in regular-season games. The Cowboys have won only one playoff game in that span after three Super Bowl titles in a four-year span in the first half of the 1990s.

Romo finished 31-of-43 for 307 yards and a touchdown. When the Cowboys got the ball back in the final 3 minutes, Kyle Orton got his first action since the veteran quarterback signed a free-agent deal during the offseason to be Romo's backup.

Orton threw a 5-yard TD pass to Witten with 34 seconds left, capping a 10-play, 89-yard drive.

Witten, the seven-time Pro Bowl tight end who uncharacteristically had several drops the first three games after missing most of the preseason with a lacerated spleen, had 13 catches for 112 yards.

The regular referees wrapped up the first weekend of games since returning to work. It was a week after that disputed Monday night ending that gave the Seattle Seahawks a victory over the Green Bay Packers.

Referee Walt Anderson had to go under the hood to review three plays in the Bears-Cowboys game but none that will cause the kind of uproar from a week earlier.

Chicago opened the second half with a 73-yard drive capped by Cutler's 34-yard TD pass to Hester, who raced past rookie cornerback Morris Claiborne and had to make a lunging catch at the goal line.

Despite a screen shot frozen on the huge video board over the field that raised the question of whether the ball might have hit the ground as Hester rolled over, Anderson confirmed the on-field ruling of touchdown after reviewing the play.

Later in the third quarter, when Alshon Jeffery was going down after a catch, Claiborne stripped the ball and started running the other way. It was originally ruled a fumble, but the replay showed the receiver still controlled the ball when his elbow hit the ground.

In the fourth quarter, Dallas contended that the ball had been tipped before a pass interference call in the end zone. That was confirmed by replay, bringing up fourth down for Robbie Gould's second field goal.

The interception by Tillman in the second quarter, on a ball thrown right into his hands by Romo when intended receiver Dez Bryant was still running down the field, came on the third play after a 43-yard field goal by Gould.

"Tony saw it one way. Dez saw it another way," Garrett said.

Bryant had eight catches for 105 yards.

Dallas responded to that quick 10-point surge by going 80 yards on nine plays, capped by Romo's 10-yard TD pass to Miles Austin with 14 seconds left in the half.

Pro Bowl running back Matt Forte returned to the Bears' lineup after missing the previous game with a sprained right ankle and being limited in practice all week. He had 13 carries for 52 yards.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

1st Downs1826
Passing 1st downs
Rushing 1st downs
1st downs from penalties
3rd down efficiency
4th down efficiency
Total Plays5468
Total Yards360430
Yards per play6.76.3
Total Drives1011
Yards per pass
Interceptions thrown
Sacks-Yards Lost
Rushing Attempts
Yards per rush
Red Zone (Made-Att)0-00-0
Fumbles lost
Interceptions thrown
Defensive / Special Teams TDs20

Passing Leaders


Rushing Leaders


Receiving Leaders


Scoring Summary

chiFG4:21Robbie Gould 43 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 13 plays, 69 yds, 7:07
chiTD2:46Charles Tillman 25 Yard Interception Return (Robbie Gould Kick is Good)
Drive info: 3 plays, 1 yds, 1:37
dalTD0:20Miles Austin 10 Yard Pass From Tony Romo (Dan Bailey Kick is Good)
Drive info: 9 plays, 80 yds, 2:24
chiTD12:02Devin Hester 34 Yard Pass From Jay Cutler (Robbie Gould Kick is Good)
Drive info: 5 plays, 73 yds, 3:06
chiTD6:25Lance Briggs 74 Yard Interception Return (Robbie Gould Kick is Good)
Drive info: 1 plays, 74 yds, 0:00
dalFG2:14Dan Bailey 39 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 10 plays, 58 yds, 4:00
chiFG11:27Robbie Gould 21 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 11 plays, 77 yds, 5:47
chiTD6:35Brandon Marshall 31 Yard Pass From Jay Cutler (Robbie Gould Kick is Good)
Drive info: 6 plays, 67 yds, 2:02
dalTD0:38Jason Witten 5 Yard Pass From Kyle Orton (Kyle Orton Pass to Dez Bryant For Two-Point Conversion is Good)
Drive info: 10 plays, 89 yds, 2:29

Research Notes

Jay Cutler improved to 5-1 on Monday Night Football since joining the Bears in 2009. More impressively, among QB with at least 100 action plays on MNF since 2009, only Drew Brees has a better Total QBR than Cutler.
NEXT LEVEL: Jay Cutler completed seven of eight passes when targeting Brandon Marshall Monday night. Of Marshall's 138 receiving yards, 71 came after the catch. The last time Marshall had more yards after the catch came in Week 14 of 2009.
NEXT LEVEL: After sending four or fewer pass rushers on almost two-thirds of Tony Romo's dropbacks in the first half, the Bears brought such pressure on all but one of Romo's dropbacks after halftime. Before Monday, two of Romo's three interceptions came against four or fewer pass rushers. The Bears defense has eight interceptions this season when sending four or fewer pass rushers, tied for the most in the league (Rams).
NEXT LEVEL: The Cowboys called runs on just 14 of 68 plays (20.6 pct) against the Bears. It was the sixth game since Jason Garrett took over as head coach in 2010 that Dallas rushed the ball less than 30 percent of the time, all games the Cowboys lost.
NEXT LEVEL: Through the Bears' first three games this season, Jay Cutler completed 45.0 percent of his passes against five or more pass rushers (second worst in the NFL). However, Cutler was cool under pressure against the Cowboys Monday night, most notably after halftime. He completed all six of his throws against added pressure in the second half.
NEXT LEVEL: The lone bright spot for the Cowboys Monday was that Jason Witten bounced back to his Pro Bowl form, catching all 13 of his targets after leading the league in drops through the first three weeks. Witten excelled in between the painted numbers, catching nine passes for 77 yards and a touchdown, his most receiving yards in between the numbers since Week 4 of 2011.
Tony Romo is the only active QB with multiple 5-interception games... 9 other active QBs have done it once, including Peyton Manning, Jay Cutler and Matthew Stafford.
Tony Romo ties his career high with 5 interceptions... Only he and Kurt Warner have multiple 5-Int games since 2006 (Romo's first season as starter)

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