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Bears stomp Dallas on 'MNF'

Published On: Oct 01 2012 11:05:27 PM CDT
Updated On: Oct 02 2012 08:40:48 AM CDT
Bears stomp Dallas

Mike Stone / Reuters

ARLINGTON, Texas -

Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears took advantage of five Dallas turnovers in thrashing the Cowboys 34-18 Monday night at Cowboys Stadium.

The Bears (3-1) returned two interceptions off Dallas quarterback Tony Romo for touchdowns in winning their second consecutive game to remain tied with Minnesota atop the NFC North.

Romo threw a career-high five picks. The Cowboys (2-2) have scored just four touchdowns in the past three weeks.

Cutler came out firing to start the second half, moving the visitors 75 yards in just five plays to put Chicago on top 17-7. Four of those plays were completions, including a 34-yard touchdown to Devin Hester.

Under pressure on the scoring play, Cutler bought enough time to loft it down the middle of the field. Hester made a diving catch falling over the goal line. The play was reviewed, as it appeared the ball might have hit the ground, but the TD call was confirmed.

Cutler finished 18-for-24 for 275 yards and two touchdowns.

Promising Dallas scoring chances on two possessions in the third quarter with the game still in reach ended with Romo interceptions, including one that Bears linebacker Lance Briggs returned 74 yards for a touchdown. Instead of getting within a score, Dallas was down 24-7 with 6:11 left in the third.

Romo wound up 31-for-43 for 307 yards and one touchdown. Cowboys backup quarterback Kyle Orton completed nine of 10 passes in relief, including a 5-yard TD pass to Jason Witten in the game's final minute.

Chicago took a 10-7 lead into halftime, with all of its points coming during a 95-second stretch late in the second quarter. The Bears' first touchdown came when cornerback Charles Tillman took back an interception 25 yards.

The game opened with five consecutive punts, as neither team could generate much offense. Dallas appeared to have something going on its first drive with three first downs before stalling in Chicago territory. The Bears managed only 44 yards on their first two possessions.

Chicago's third drive showed improvement. Starting at their own 6-yard line after a Dallas punt, the Bears drove 69 yards in 13 plays over seven minutes. Matt Forte picked up 33 yards on the ground, and kicker Robbie Gould ended the march with a 43-yard field for a 3-0 Chicago lead.

Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo and receiver Dez Bryant weren't on the same page on the ensuing drive, and they paid the price with a touchdown. On third-and-9 from the Dallas 21, Romo threw a short out in Bryant's direction. Bryant, however, never turned back for the ball and went up the sideline.

Tillman, the only player in the vicinity of the pass, bobbled the ball at first before securing the pick and waltzing into the end zone.

Romo came back strong once Dallas got the ball back. With the quarterback slinging the ball around to Bryant and Miles Austin, the Cowboys made it a three-point game going into halftime. Romo connected with Austin on a 10-yard scoring slant with 14 seconds left in the half.

Dallas heads into a bye week, while the Bears play at Jacksonville on Sunday.

NOTES: Forte returned from an ankle injury. ... Chicago's inactives were fullback Evan Rodriguez, guard/center Edwin Williams, guard/tackle Chris Williams, defensive tackle Matt Toeaina, wide receiver Earl Bennett, defensive tackle Nate Collins and defensive end Cheta Ozougwu. ... Dallas linebacker Bruce Carter (hip) left in the first quarter. ... The Cowboys' inactives were punter Chris Jones, safety Matt Johnson, linebacker Alex Albright, center Phil Costa, nose tackle Jay Ratliff, outside linebacker Anthony Spencer and defensive end Kenyon Coleman. ... Cowboys strong safety Barry Church went on injured reserve last week after surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon. ... A game was played with the roof open for only the fifth time in the four-year history of Cowboys Stadium.