|Date of game: 12/4/2014
Recap: Chicago vs. Dallas
Chicago, IL (SportsNetwork.com) - The Dallas Cowboys stayed perfect on the road and ended a three-game losing streak to the Chicago Bears by getting the ball to DeMarco Murray every chance they could.
Murray had 41 touches and gained 228 yards from scrimmage, putting the Cowboys on his back as they shook off a demoralizing division loss on Thanksgiving to beat the Bears 41-28 on Thursday night.
"He's a workhorse," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said of Murray. "A hell of a football player. I'm glad we have him."
There was no relief for the Bears, who lost not only the game, but also star wide receiver Brandon Marshall, who was taken away from Soldier Field in an ambulance after suffering an injury to his ribs in the first half, though he tweeted later that he was "good."
Murray, the NFL's leading rusher, followed last year's 146-yard effort against the Bears with 179 yards and a touchdown on 32 carries and added 49 yards on nine catches, hurting the Bears all over the field.
"I threw him the ball a bunch tonight, too," Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo grinned.
Romo had three touchdown passes -- two to Cole Beasley -- and earned his eighth career win in Thursday games as he and the Cowboys bounced back from a 33-10 loss to NFC East rival Philadelphia by winning in Chicago for the first time since 2007.
Their loss a week ago came at home, of course, giving the Eagles the division lead for at least a week. It's on the road where the Cowboys (9-4) have thrived this season, going 6-0.
Matt Forte and Jay Cutler rushed for touchdowns in the fourth quarter, cutting a 25-point Dallas lead to 10. But the Bears (5-8) lost for the second week in a row after falling in Detroit on Thanksgiving.
Romo, who had a 109.2 quarterback rating in last season's 45-28 loss to the Bears, completed 21-of-26 passes for 205 yards and a 138.0 rating to help get Garrett his first career win against Chicago in four meetings.
The victory locked up the Cowboys' first winning record since 2009 while the Bears are guaranteed back-to-back seasons of a .500 mark or worse for the first time since 2003-04.
"I'd be lying to you if I said that I'm OK with it," said Bears linebacker Jon Bostic. "(I'm) disappointed, but the fact is that heading into this game we still had a quarter of our season left so it's not like we can just go out there and start feeling sorry for ourselves and saying, 'We didn't have the season that we wanted to have so let's just cash it in these next four games.'
"We have a great group here, great group of men -- coaches and players -- we've just got to find a way to come together and execute and try to win some ball games and finish strong."
Cutler, who entered the game 2-0 against Dallas with a 138.2 rating and no interceptions, completed 32 of his 46 throws for 341 yards, one pick and touchdown passes to Alshon Jeffery and Martellus Bennett.
Forte fumbled on the third play of the second half, leading to Beasley's second touchdown -- a leaping 24-yard grab near the right pylon that made it 21-7.
Dallas' Dwayne Harris had a 47-yard punt return touchdown nullified by a penalty, but the Cowboys scored anyway after Dez Bryant's acrobatic 43-yard catch set up Romo's 6-yard pass to Gavin Escobar in the end zone.
Joseph Randle's 17-yard touchdown run through the left side of the line pushed Dallas' lead to 28 points with 2:09 remaining in the third quarter. The Bears got six back when Cutler dropped a 27-yard pass into Jeffery's arms in the end zone on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Veteran kicker Jay Feely, who was signed Wednesday to fill in while Robbie Gould nurses a quad injury, had his extra-point kick blocked by Barry Church.
After Dan Bailey's 35-yard field goal for Dallas, Forte scored on a 1-yard run and Chicago recovered an onside kick after it was dropped by Escobar, leading to Cutler's 10-yard score. But another onside kick failed and Bailey added a 27-yarder for the final margin.
"All I can really say is we didn't play well enough," said Bears safety Ryan Mundy. "There was something here, something there, a penalty here, penalty there -- can't have that and we didn't play well enough. Gave up too many big plays, didn't get off the field when we need to and that's really all you can say about that."
Dallas linebacker Bruce Carter rushed tipped Pat O'Donnell's punt in the first quarter, giving the Cowboys the ball near midfield and setting up Murray's touchdown on fourth down inside the 1-yard line early in the second quarter.
Marshall had two key catches on the ensuing Bears drive -- a 42-yard reception after tipping the ball to himself with one hand in traffic, and the 15-yard catch on fourth down when he was hurt by a knee in the back from Church.
They led to Bennett's 12-yard touchdown, but the Cowboys took a 14-7 lead at the other end when Beasley dragged safety Chris Conte to stretch the ball over the goal line on a 13-yard touchdown catch with eight seconds left.Game Notes
Romo is 8-2 as a starter on Thursday ... Bryant had six catches for 82 yards
... Forte rushed for just 26 yards on 13 carries and caught eight passes for
74 yards ... Bennett had 12 receptions for 84 yards against his former team
... Dallas defensive tackle Josh Brent played in his first game since teammate
Jerry Brown died from injuries suffered in a December 2012 car crash that led
to Brent's conviction on an intoxication manslaughter charge. Brent, who
crashed his Mercedes while driving drunk, was convicted in January and served
time in jail. He was suspended by the NFL for the first 10 games of the season
... Conte left the game in the second half with a back injury ... Dallas took
a 12-11 lead in the all-time series ... The Cowboys are on the road against
Philadelphia for a Sunday night game in Week 15 and the Bears play New Orleans
at home in a Monday night game on Dec. 15.