FINAL SCORE: Bears 27, Cowboys 20
Raise your hand if you can honestly tell me that the Bears would win the game after those first two or three series. The offensive line was destroyed by DeMarcus Ware and their exotic, all-out blitzes, and Cutler was taking a Rocky Balboa beating. But something very strange happened. Something that us Bears fans haven't seen much of under Lovie Smith. They actually made ADJUSTMENTS. Mike Martz, the mad, jolly-genius, started exploiting the blitzes with quick passes and, before you knew it, the Bears were scoring touchdowns. Very strange. Jay Cutler looked not only confident (which he always does), but he looked certain. As if it didn't matter what the Cowboys would do on defense because he knew their offense would have an answer. It was so much damn fun to watch that I'm still sort of in disbelief.
It's one thing to watch your team win, but it's a completely different thing to watch them outplay and outsmart another team. After last week's "win" against the Lions, I was almost hanging my head in shame. I had to answer a number of questions from friends and family if I thought Calvin Johnson made the catch. What could I say? Of course he made the catch. It's a terrible rule. The refs got it right, but come on, how can I feel good after winning like that? But, today I walk with pride and I carry my head high. We beat a talented football team. They made mistakes, we didn't. Our quarterback played like a freakin' machine. Our defense made them pay for completing passes. Our receivers made plays (see, Hester, Devin). I rarely yelled at the television besides the occasional, "I hate the Cover 2".
I think that is enough of the rosey discourse. As much as I'm enjoying this win and looking forward to the showdown against the Packers on Monday Night, there are still some things that concern me about this team. For example, the offensive line can't continue to get off to slow starts like they did these first two games. It will either lead to interceptions and fumbles (see Lions game) or the potential death of our quarterback (see Cowboys game). They MUST do a better job of preparing during the week for whatever defenses will throw at them. Yesterday, they looked sluggish and confused in the first quarter. That CAN'T happen against the Packers or they will be down 14-0 quickly. Also, can somebody on that line please, please run block? I know that Matt Forte struggles getting through the line of scrimmage with his tall running-style and tip-toe steps, but he has had very few holes to work with. I assumed teams would back off the line of scrimmage with Cutler having success down the field, but it hasn't happened. Linebackers and defensive backs are still crashing the line. But, even when the Bears are facing seven men in the box, they still can't open up any holes. This has to improve.
As hard as their defense played yesterday, their pass rush and secondary play is still a problem. Yes, Romo is hard to sack, but he had way too many dropbacks with a clean pocket to throw from. Peppers was double-teamed most of the game, but no one else stepped up to get consistent pressure on him. This exposed our suspect secondary, and allowed Romo to throw for a ton of yards. Yes, some of them were in garbage time, but much of it was when the game was still close. You can't count on turnovers to win games. At some point you have to consistently stop teams on 3rd and long (which they didn't do well yesterday), and your defensive backs have to make a play. D.J. Moore had a couple of nice picks, but they were tipped balls. I would love to see a Bears DB actually break on the football and step in front of a receiver. But, that's the nature of the Cover 2. Sit back, let them catch it in front of you and hopefully strip the ball or punish the receiver. It worked yesterday (thank you Charles Tillman). I'm not sure it can work all season.
Now, on the other hand, their run defense was ridiculous. Urlacher and Briggs have been blowing up every running play through two games. And, their defensive line is doing a good job staying in their gaps. It is good that they are forcing teams to become one dimensional, but they have to improve their pass rush and tighten up their coverage if they want to be a dominant defense.
I didn't think this team would be 2-0, and I didn't think the passing game would look this good this early. I'm more optimistic than I've been in awhile, but I'm not ready to buy Super Bowl tickets. This was a good win on the road against a good, albeit struggling, Cowboys team. I'm going to enjoy this week and look forward to the 180th meeting between the Chicago Bears and the hated Green Bay Packers on Monday Night Football. It should be a good one...