After a competitive first half that finished with a 10-7 score, the Dallas Cowboys came out of the locker room and imploded in a big way. Tony Romo’s two interceptions in the first half were not his fault, but he quickly disintegrated into a turnover machine while trying to mount a comeback in the second half. Romo finished the night with 307 yards, 1 touchdown, and five interceptions. The Chicago Bears took full advantage, returning two of those interceptions for touchdowns.
The problem is, even with five, and yes you read that right, FIVE interceptions, this was a team loss.
Dallas’ lauded pass rush could not get a push against an offensive line that gave up seven sacks to the Green Bay Packers two weeks ago, and Jay Cutler carved up the secondary to the tune of 275 yards, 2 touchdowns, and zero interceptions.
A Cowboys defense that many thought had turned the corner from last year had problems at every level; lack of a pass rush, missed tackles, and a number of blown assignments in the secondary throughout the game. No one has seen Brandon Marshall look so dominant since he was wearing a Broncos uniform, and he ran through the Cowboys ‘improved’ secondary almost at will in front of a national audience.
One of the big problems for the Cowboys was that they could not get the running game going with Demarco Murray, who finished with 11 carries for 24 yards. Murray is a talented back, and when he gets on track this Cowboys offense is difficult to stop. However, the interior of the Cowboys line continues to be a major liability for a team looking to get back into the playoffs, and is a far cry from the days of Andre Gurode and Leonard Davis.
Without the running game, the Cowboys attack became extremely one dimensional. Having to throw the ball every play against the Bears Cover 2 defense will inevitably lead to errors and the Bears took full advantage by returning two interceptions for touchdowns. Tony Romo showed a tendency to try and force balls into double coverage in the second half, and the Bears defense made two more routine interceptions off of errant throws.
Another issue the Dallas Cowboys offense faced was a lack of effort and concentration from WR Dez Bryant. Bryant had one of his best statistical games of his career, but this effort will be remembered for the mistakes rather than the positives. With the Cowboys trailing in the second half, Romo hit Bryant dead in the hands down the sideline for what would have been a huge gain. But lo and behold, the ball carried right through Bryant’s hands. This was just one example on a night that Bryant ran wrong routes, got penalized for an illegal shift, and dropped multiple balls. This Cowboys team desperately needs Dez Bryant to live up to his potential and take his game to the next level.
A team that looked like a contender after defeating the New York Giants in the opening game of the season has quickly learned that there are some major chinks in their silver and blue armor.