Cutler, Bears make Super road longer for Cowboys
The road to playing in the Super Bowl at home just got a lot longer for the Dallas Cowboys.
Dallas is 0-2 for the first time since 2001 after a 27-20 loss Sunday to the Chicago Bears in the home opener at Cowboys Stadium, owner Jerry Jones' grand showplace that will host the next Super Bowl in less than five months.
''You can't anticipate it and you've got to realize that it's quite a setback,'' Jones said. ''Everything in me is about being optimistic. I know at the end of the day these losses, if we can have a season that gets us in the playoffs, these losses can be mitigated.
''But right now they are everything,'' he said. ''We haven't won.''
And this is supposed to be the easy part of the schedule for the Cowboys, the only 0-2 team in the NFC East.
''We haven't done anything as far as being paraded around like we're the next Super Bowl champs. We're not,'' linebacker Bradie James said. ''We're an 0-2 team that needs to win the next game.''
Jay Cutler threw three touchdowns as Chicago went from a narrow escape at home against a lowly Detroit team that lost its quarterback in the second quarter to a convincing road win over Tony Romo and Co.
The Bears are 2-0 for the first time since their Super Bowl season in 2006.
''It was a signature game,'' coach Lovie Smith said. ''We just made plays throughout. ... We've been saying what we are, which is a good football team, but you have to get wins to validate that.''
D.J. Moore had both interceptions thrown by Romo, Charles Tillman forced a fumble in the fourth quarter and Robbie Gould made field goals of 38 and 40 yards for Chicago.
Cutler was 21 of 29 for 277 yards and was sacked only once, on the second play of the game, despite losing left tackle Chris Williams to a hamstring injury in the first quarter.
Dallas twice went ahead in the first half. The Bears responded both times with go-ahead drives that ended on TD passes by Cutler - 39 yards to Greg Olsen and then 9 yards to Devin Hester. The score to Hester came after a 59-yard completion to Johnny Knox on third-and-15, Chicago's only third-down conversion all day.
''We knew we were going to get their best punch early, coming off a tough loss and wanting to put up a good showing at home,'' Cutler said. ''But once we settled down and started attacking more, we were OK.''
Cutler had an NFL-worst 26 interceptions last season, and another last week, but the Dallas defense failed to come up with a turnover for the second week in a row.
Next for the Cowboys is a trip South to play undefeated Houston (2-0) before Dallas has its early open date. Chicago is home against Green Bay.
Houston beat Dallas in a preseason game last month. More embarrassing for the Cowboys was their last trip to Houston for a regular season game, in 2002 when they lost in the Texans' first-ever game.
It wasn't much of a shock when Dallas was 0-2 in 2001, the season after Troy Aikman had retired. The Cowboys lost their first four games that year on way to the second of three consecutive 5-11 seasons.
This 0-2 start is quite a jolt to a team with most of its starters back from a division-winning team that won a playoff game last season.
''I don't think we're in crisis mode by any means,'' linebacker Keith Brooking said. ''But we have to get it fixed in a hurry.''
In 1993, the Cowboys recovered from an 0-2 start to win the Super Bowl. But they were coming off a championship and played the first two games without Emmitt Smith because of a contract dispute.
Dallas had a chance to tie the Bears midway through the fourth quarter, but David Buehler's 44-yard field goal try was wide left. Cutler then iced the game with a 3-yard TD lob to Matt Forte, right after his short throw to Hester became a 38-yard gain.
The Cowboys lost two Pro Bowl players in that two-series stretch.
Tight end Jason Witten banged his head while being tackled after making a 23-yard catch before the missed field goal. Though he lobbied hard to return to the game, team medical officials wouldn't let him.
Cornerback Mike Jenkins hurt his right knee when he got tangled up with a blocker on Hester's long gain. An MRI is scheduled for Monday, though Jenkins said there was only a ''little swelling'' and that he felt that he would be fine.
Romo was 34 of 51 for 374 yards and a 1-yard touchdown pass to rookie fullback Chris Gronkowski. Miles Austin caught 10 passes for 142 yards.
Dallas also got a 62-yard punt return for a touchdown from rookie Dez Bryant.