Halas Intrigue Bears Report: Breaking down the Week 14 victory vs. the Cowboys

Bears keep slim postseason hopes alive with a 31-24 victory over Cowboys on “Thursday Night Football.”

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Bears running back David Montgomery carries the ball against the Cowboys.

Bears running back David Montgomery carries the ball against the Cowboys.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

The good: After a four-game losing skid, the Bears have won four of their last five games and remain in the discussion for a postseason spot with the 31-24 victory over the slumping Cowboys.

The bad: LB Roquan Smith likely is done for the season after suffering a pectoral injury in the first quarter. “It doesn’t look real good for him,” coach Matt Nagy said.

The ugly: After a 3-0 start, the Cowboys (6-7) have lost seven of their last 10 — yet remain in first place in the sorry NFC East.

Let’s get to it ...

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Offense: Trubisky, ‘O’ find their stride

Where was this version of Mitch Trubisky for most of this season? The Bears quarterback kept the Cowboys guessing throughout the game with his willingness to tuck the ball and run, teaming with a strong performance from the offensive line to take the wind out of a strong Dallas front seven.

It wasn’t that long ago that everyone involved in the Bears’ offense seemed searching somewhere — anywhere — for answers. With Trubisky starting to emerge as the dual-threat he was envisioned as, they seem to be getting them, Patrick Finley writes.

By the numbers:
  • 231 PASSING YARDS: Mitch Trubisky threw three TD passes for the second straight week. He joins New Orleans’ Drew Brees and Buffalo’s Josh Allen as the only QBs to have multiple games with three-plus passing TDs and one-plus rushing TDs in a game in the last two seasons. 
  • 151 RUSHING YARDS: David Montgomery (86 yards) and Trubisky (63 yards) provided a strong one-two punch on the ground.
Offensive play of the game:

Defense: Mack and Co. dominate

After opening the game with a steady 17-play, 75-yard touchdown drive, the Cowboys’ offense kept stalling until garbage time late in the fourth quarter. Remember all of the talk of the Cowboys’ one-two punch of QB Dak Prescott and RB Ezekiel Elliott? Prescott, the NFL’s passing leader entering the game, was 27-for-334 yards (most of them coming in garbage time) and one touchdown. Elliott rushed for two touchdowns but was held to 81 yards, his fifth straight game under 100.

By the numbers:
  • 2 SACKS: Khalil Mack and Eddie Jackson each recorded one.
  • 0 TAKEAWAYS: First game with zero takeaways since Week 9 vs. the Eagles.
  • 10 TACKLES: LB Nick Kwiatkoski matched his career-high.
Defensive play of the game:

Special Teams: A perfect day — sort of

A kicker missing field goals at Soldier Field? It happened, but the culprit was Dallas’ Brett Maher, who was wide right from 42 yards in the second quarter. Maher, who also had a kickoff bounce out of bounds, is 20-for-30 on field goals this season. His 10 misses are the most for any NFL kicker in an entire season the last four years.

By the numbers:
  • Eddy Pineiro: 1-for-1 on field goals (36 yards), 4-for-4 on extra points.
  • Cordarrelle Patterson: Two kick returns for 44 yards, including a 32-yard return.

What They’re Saying

  • Bears coach Matt Nagy: “The quarterback, Mitch, knows that throughout the season he could have played better, too. I’ve talked about trying to find that identity, we’re searching for it. We finally feel like the last several weeks we feel good about where we’re at. Are we perfect? No. But we feel good about it.”
  • Bears QB Mitch Trubisky: “We’re almost there. We got to keep getting better. Like at the end of the game I felt like we didn’t close it out as an offense, stay on the field, finish the game.”
  • Cowboys QB Dak Prescott: “I don’t know how it is, we’re still in the lead for our division. You have to be thankful for that. But we can’t hang our hat on that. We have got to figure out our issues right now, fix them and get better.”

From Our Notebooks

  • For a team that’s gotten so little production at tight end this season, J.P. Holtz’s performance stood out in a big way, Finley writes. The 26-year-old led the team with 56 receiving yards off three catches, including a 30-yard screen that set up a touchdown. He had just two catches in his career entering Thursday.
  • Matt Nagy refused to concede the Bears’ playoff aspirations amid midseason struggles, and now it seems like his players are on board even if the odds remain long. It’s a credit to the Bears coach that they’ve righted the ship and created a chance for themselves down the stretch, Jason Lieser writes.
  • Roquan Smith left the game after just one series with a pectoral injury. It was an unfortunate development after Smith’s breakout 15-tackle, two-sack game against the Lions a week earlier.

Here are even more game highlights.

What’s Next?

The Bears have 10 days off before a three-week gauntlet that’ll see them take on the Packers, Chiefs and Vikings to end the season. They’ll likely need to win all of their remaining games to reach the postseason.

View From Dallas

  • In handing out grades off this stinker of a game for the Cowboys, the Dallas Morning News pulled no punches when it came to the beleaguered coach, saying: Jason Garrett has lost this team.
  • Cowboys owner Jerry Jones might not want to seek comfort with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, where this headline awaits: “How low can the sinking, stinking Dallas Cowboys go after embarrassing loss to Bears?” Remember, this team is still in first place.

On the Podcast

On today’s episode, Patrick Finley, Jason Lieser and Mark Potash break down the Bears’ surprise win, Mitch Trubisky’s outstanding play and the performance of some lesser-known offensive players. We also debut a new segment where Mark gives out game balls (does not go well) and the “Keeping it Real Award” (you’ll never guess who wins).

In the Pot-Cast, it’s a simple question: How many rappers can Mark name?

Listen here.

Also, got any questions for the Bears? Email us or tweet at @suntimes_sports and we’ll see if we can get them answered in one of our next newsletters.

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