Cowboys vs. Bears 2014 final score: 3 things we learned from Dallas’ 41-28 win
The Cowboys got another monster game from DeMarco Murray and snuffed out a late Bears rally to improve to 9-4 on the season.
The Chicago Bears made it more interesting than it should have been with a flurry of fourth-quarter touchdowns, but the Dallas Cowboys held on for what amounted for a relatively easy 41-28 win on Thursday Night Football.
The Cowboys led 35-7 entering the fourth quarter, but the Bears offense suddenly came alive, scoring touchdowns on three consecutive drives to pull within 10. Alshon Jeffery’s long touchdown grab to open the quarter kicked off a furious rally which was fueled in part by an onside kick recovery. After Dallas broke the momentum with a field goal to make it a 13-point difference, the Bears looked to be driving down for a fourth-consecutive score. But Jay Cutler threw an interception in the end zone with 1:35 remaining, fizzling out any hopes of a dramatic comeback.
The Cowboys pick up their ninth win of the season, a major mile marker for a team that has gone 8-8 in three consecutive seasons and hasn’t finished over .500 since 2009.
Here’s what we learned from the game.
1) DeMarco Murray got a ton of touches … maybe too many.
Murray absolutely torched the Bears defense, cutting and weaving his way to 228 of total offense (179 rushing) and a touchdown. Chicago’s top ten run defense got shoved around by the Dallas line, but even when they had Murray bottled up he was still making things happen on his own. Murray was particularly effective in the screen game — his eight first half receptions were the most by a running back since 2012.
The only concern, if you’re a Cowboys fans, is Murray’s workload. He totaled 41 touches, a large chunk of which came after Dallas took a 21-point lead midway through the third quarter (though the Bears’ trio of fourth quarter touchdowns would have probably brought him back on the field, anyway). That’s a risky strategy who’s career up until this season has been defined by injuries. Murray has already carried the ball 39 more times in 2014 than any of his other three seasons.
Murray has developed a deft ability to avoid taking direct shots, but all it takes is one. He’s a legitimate MVP candidate at this point, and the Cowboys simply can’t afford to lose his production.
2) You know who Cole Beasley is now.
Dallas’s best receiver wasn’t Dez Bryant … it was undrafted Cole Beasley, an unheralded third-year pro who caught two touchdowns and came up inches short of a third. Beasley gave Dallas the lead with a 13-yard scoring catch just before halftime, then hauled in a spectacular 24-yard grab coming out of the locker room, spinning and lunging into the end zone to put the Cowboys up 21-7 (though replay suggested he was down by contact just before tapping the pylon).
Beasley, who had three receptions for 42 yards, also set up Murray’s first touchdown when his third-down reception put them inside the one-yard line. To cap it all off, he fell on a Bears’ onside kick attempt early in the fourth quarter.
3) This could be the knockout punch for Marc Trestman.
Calls for Trestman’s firing were already spreading through Chicago coming into Thursday night, and his seat will be absolutely scalding now. It’s not just that a team with realistic division title hopes coming into the season is now 5-8 — it’s how the Bears have been losing. They haven’t even been competitive in the majority of their losses, getting beat by at least 13 points six times this season. Thursday night would have been significantly worse without the late rally. Even the Bears’ wins have been unimpressive — four of the five have come against teams under .500.
The question is gradually becoming not if Trestman will be fired, but if he can even make it through the rest of the season.