Soldier Field, Chicago, Ill.
The Dallas Cowboys visit the Windy City to face the ignited Chicago Bears who have won three of their last four games. Both are 6-6, with uncertainty within their respective divisions. Chicago needs a win to gain ground on the Minnesota Vikings, who have seemingly clinched one of the NFC wild-cards if Chicago doesn’t step up. Dallas needs this win as badly. They could extend their lead over the 5-7 Philadelphia Eagles, who just suffered a loss to Miami, in the NFC East.
Both teams are embattled with injuries, as well. Dallas’ young linebacker Leighton Vander Esch and versatile running back Tony Pollard have both been ruled out for the Thursday contest. Expect starting back Ezekiel Elliott to get more touches tonight, since he has been sharing the workload with Pollard. For Chicago, they would be losing one of their reliable cornerbacks in Prince Amukamara and young wideout Taylor Gabriel.
The Bears kicked it off to the Cowboys to start the game, and Dak Prescott drove Dallas downfield, passing it to his tight end Blake Jarwin to bypass two long third downs. This drive was the Cowboys’ longest of the season, play-wise. After frustrating gains in the redzone, Ezekiel Elliott finally punched it in for six to lead the game. Chicago had a chance to equalize in the first quarter, but cornerback Jourdan Lewis picked off Mitch Trubisky with a beautiful toe-tap catch at his own one-yard line.
Although, the interception didn’t matter to Chicago as Dallas was stifled. Elliott was only allowed two yards on the second drive and the pass attempt was swatted away by Kyle Fuller. Cowboys punter Chris Jones was forced to punt near the back of the endzone, providing excellent field position for the Bears. This drive wasn’t perfect for the defense, though. Linebacker Roquan Smith was ruled out of the game with a pectoral injury as a result.
To polish off the first quarter, Trubisky marched his team down to Dallas’ five-yard line. He finished off the drive with a bullet to Allen Robinson II for the score.
After another dominant performance by the defense, Chicago got the ball back. The Bears were stopped short, but that wasn’t a problem for kicker Eddy Pineiro as he drilled a 36-yarder to give Chicago the lead.
Dak Prescott responded with a similar drive downfield, only for it to end with a Brett Maher field goal miss.
Just before the halftime whistle sounded, Trubisky completed yet another touchdown pass to Robinson. Tight end Javon Wims was injured on the previous play after Jaylon Smith landed on his right knee. Both teams headed to the locker room with the Bears up 17-7 after Robinson’s catch.
Chicago had the ball to start the second half and after a couple of drives the Bears scored again. Trubisky threw a conservative screen pass to Anthony Miller, who broke a tackle and spun his way into a diving score.
Elliott finally found the endzone and some hope for Dallas after several frustrating drives. The Cowboys brought the score up to a ten point deficit, 14-24.
The Bears playcaller extended the Bears’ lead once again, in a way very few thought he would have. Mitch found a hole in the Dallas secondary and rushed for the touchdown.
In the remaining minutes of the fourth quarter, Trubisky and the Bears ran the clock down as much as they could. As the clock winded down, Dak and the Cowboys scored a touchdown and field goal to finish the game. Chicago came up on top and controlled Dallas with their defense and smart offensive plays.
Could this huge NFC win elevate Chicago’s chances of entering the playoffs as a wildcard? It could, but the Bears would have to hope the Vikings pick up some losses during the upcoming games. As for the Cowboys, it seems like nobody wants to win the NFC East. Both the Cowboys and the Eagles would have to fight hard the next few games.