Bears beat Cowboys 45-28 on Ditka Day

The Chicago Bears are back in the playoff race, and they can

thank Josh McCown for that.

McCown threw for a career-high four touchdowns, and the Bears

scored on their first eight possessions to grab a share of the NFC

North lead with a 45-28 victory over the Dallas Cowboys on a frigid

Monday night.

The Bears (7-6) retired Hall of Famer Mike Ditka’s number at

halftime and pulled even with Detroit in the division race on a

night when the game-time temperature was in single digits and the

wind chill factor was below zero.

The loss left Dallas (7-6) a game behind Philadelphia in the NFC

East and owner Jerry Jones calling for more aggressive play-calling

on defense.

The bone-chilling conditions didn’t stop McCown from throwing

for 348 yards or keep the Bears from running away with a lopsided

victory.

It was one they desperately needed after consecutive losses, and

although Detroit holds the head-to-head sweep, the Bears are back

in the thick of the playoff race.

”All we could do is try to beat the Dallas Cowboys,” coach

Marc Trestman said. ”We kept it as simple as that. We didn’t get

into all the hypotheticals and all the things that go into winning

or losing a game.”

Alshon Jeffery’s leaping catch between two defenders in the

corner of the end zone in the closing seconds of the second quarter

gave the Bears a 24-14 lead, and they continued to pour it on in

the second half after a gut-wrenching overtime loss at Minnesota

last week.

Here are five things we learned on a frigid night at Soldier

Field:

STILL NO. 2: No matter how well McCown plays, the Bears insist

he’s still the back up to Jay Cutler.

Even after the veteran became the first Bears quarterback to

throw for 300 or more yards, that message came through.

Cutler will get his job back once he’s ready to return from a

high left ankle sprain. McCown will get a nice pat on the back –

and maybe a contract for next season.

”We’ll see where Jay is this week,” he said. ”He’ll have to

be released by the doctors and when Jay is ready to play, he’ll be

playing.”

NO DEFENSE: Jerry Jones isn’t happy, either. The Cowboys boast

the league’s worst defense, and after watching Chicago rack up 490

yards, their owner is calling for some changes.

”Basically, we will have to make some adjustments in what we

are doing defensively,” Jones said. ”What that usually means is

taking more risks on defense. But if you’re going to have the kind

of match like we had tonight or certainly in New Orleans you have

to take some risks. We have to double up and I’m sure that will be

part of the plan on defense; more risks.”

DOMINANT DUO: No matter who’s throwing them the ball, Brandon

Marshall and Alshon Jeffery continue to wreak havoc.

Marshall caught six passes for 100 yards, giving him 1,090 on

the season. Jeffery is now up to 1,193. He had 84 yards receiving

after breaking his own team record the previous week with 249.

STOPPING THE RUN: The Bears came in ranked last against the run,

and they continued to struggle in that area. They held Tony Romo to

104 yards passing but couldn’t do much against the run. DeMarco

Murray ran for 146 yards, and the Cowboys finished with 198 rushing

on just 28 carries.

A ROMO FADE?: Romo’s regular-season record as a starter in

December and January is now 12-17. But Jones insisted he’s not

concerned by that.

”I really don’t think I ever made a decision regarding Tony in

any way that involved a thought about his December record,” he

said. ”It’s not an issue. We need to win a game. We need to win

next week. The December thing is not a big factor.”

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org