"This was not my coldest game," quarterback Tony Romo said, "but it was definitely a cold game."
Romo said he played in a minus 20 or 25 game while at Eastern Illinois.
"For the most part I felt comfortable," Romo said. "It was windy in spurts. When we cut through the wind we did some things well. I'd like one throw back."
That was a third-down throw on the Cowboys' opening possession of the second half in which he overthrew Dez Bryant.
"He ran a good route," Romo said. "The guy had inside leverage and Dez had an in-breaking route. As I looked at him I didn't think he was going to be able to cross his face. Dez ran a heckuva route to get in there. In the process I was going to throw it high so he could go around him high, thinking the defender was inside. He wrapped in there real good and at the last second I didn't pull it down as much as I needed to."
Neither team had a turnover despite the frigid temps.
"It was cold but it seemed like everyone handled the ball pretty well," coach Jason Garrett said. "The quarterbacks threw it fairly well. They were accurate and there weren't a lot of balls dropped our coming out of guys' hands. I thought collectively both sides did a good job with the ball."
The Cowboys have now lost the coldest regular-season game in franchise history and the coldest game overall in team history. The coldest game remains the Ice Bowl, the 1967 NFL Championship in which they lost 21-17 in minus-13 degree temperatures.
He needs to play better.
Ware ended a two-game sack-less streak with a meaningless fourth-quarter takedown of Josh McCown. Ware has six on the season and with three games remaining in the regular season, his string of getting double-figures in sacks is nearing an end.
It's not like Ware it getting double-teamed on every snaps, tackles Jermon Bushrod and Jordan Mills, a rookie, held him for most of the night. Now Ware is dealing with some health issues, a stinger and a thigh injury, but he said he's healthy.
"I've been effective, but I have to go back to the fundamentals of practice and honing in on things, keying on things and making myself a better player," he said.
Added Cowboys coach Jason Garrett: "He’s coming off that injury he’s been dealing with that for most of the year. It’s just one of those deals he’s got to get himself going and start impacting the game a little bit more. Sometimes the conditions are tough on a night like this to do that, but we certainly need him down the stretch."
“Is that Luke McCown or Cade McCown?” Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick asked after Monday night's 45-28 blowout loss to the Chicago Bears.
Um, actually it was Josh McCown, who is Luke's brother and not related to former Bears first-round bust Cade McNown.
Scandrick meant no disrespect -- “He's been playing great this year,” he added -- but his slip of the mind makes the point. The Dallas defense got dominated by a 34-year-old journeyman backup.
McCown has consistently performed well while filling in for an injured Jay Cutler, but this was a career night for a guy who couldn't keep a starting job at SMU. He completed 27 of 36 passes for 348 yards and a career-high four touchdowns, plus he ran for another score.
To be brutally honest, the numbers would have been much more impressive if the Bears weren't in clock-killing mode for most of the fourth quarter. Chicago never punted or committed a turnover.
All due respect to McCown, but he's not a guy who should account for five touchdowns against an NFL defense. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he's the first Bears quarterback with a five-touchdown game since Johnny Lujack in 1949.
“If you were back there at quarterback and we played the way we played, you'd probably have five touchdowns,” defensive end DeMarcus Ware said in response to a question from a 40-something television reporter. “I mean, that's the way I feel. If you don't play a fundamentally sound game, a guy that can just get out there and play, he'll hurt you and that's what he did.”
In doing so, McCown added his name to a long list featuring a bunch of big-name quarterbacks.
"We thought about going," Garrett said. "We were still right in the middle of the field and still a long way to go on that … You start getting into those discussions when you're putting it all together: how much time is on the clock, the score and what they're doing offensively. We thought the right move there was to play a little bit of field position and obviously it didn't work out very well for us."
Time for a rebound: One week after allowing 51 points to the Denver Broncos, the Cowboys allowed only 16 points to the Washington Redskins. One week after allowing 623 yards and 24 fourth-quarter points in a loss to the Detroit Lions, they were able to limit the Minnesota Vikings. After giving up 625 yards and 40 first downs to the New Orleans Saints, they used the bye week to get things right against the New York Giants. And now after Monday's loss they have to rebound again on a short week with the Green Bay Packers coming to Arlington.
"They'll be a lot of things we look at in terms of what we're playing," Garrett said. "We'll look at who's involved and we have to step back and watch the tape before we make any of those assessments right now. We've done that on a couple of occasions this year and we simply have to do it again."
No breaks: In a 17-point defeat that did not seem that close there are not one or two plays that could have changed momentum, but the Cowboys saw any chance get wiped out because of a holding penalty on Brandon Carr. The flag wiped out a Sterling Moore interception. Garrett said he did not have a good view of the play. The penalty might have been the right call, but the flag came after Moore started to return the turnover upfield. That came two plays after Bruce Carter dropped an interception down the seam.
Where's the pass rush? Monte Kiffin's 4-3 scheme is predicated on getting pressure on the quarterback with just four pass-rushers. In the past two games the Cowboys have one sack and it was a fourth-quarter sack Monday by DeMarcus Ware when the game was out of hand. If the Cowboys can't rush the passer, they can't play zone coverage. Quarterbacks have just ripped them apart. The Cowboys paid Carr $50 million. They rewarded Orlando Scandrick with a solid extension as their nickel corner. They traded up to the sixth pick to take Morris Claiborne in the 2012 draft. But all of those moves are proof that a pass rush makes a secondary, not the other way around.
CHICAGO -- The playoff scenarios aren't very complicated, as far as the Dallas Cowboys are concerned.
"I think we've had that. Really, a couple of weeks ago, we felt like we needed to win. We did that, so it's going right back into it."
The 7-6 Cowboys, who missed the playoffs the last two seasons after losing regular-season finales that were de facto NFC East title games, dropped a game behind the 8-5 Philadelphia Eagles in the division standings. Those teams will meet Week 17 at the Cowboys' AT&T Stadium in another potential win-or-go-home game.
Because the Cowboys won in Philadelphia on Oct. 20, Dallas controls its own playoff destiny. However, the only way the Cowboys are guaranteed to end a three-year postseason drought is to win its final three games.
"We've got to win them all at this point," cornerback Orlando Scandrick said. "We can't sit around and wait for Philadelphia to lose."
Added defensive end DeMarcus Ware: "We just feel like we don't want any margin of error. We want to win out and control our own destiny. That's just the bottom line."
CHICAGO -- Don't try to blame this particular loss on quarterback Tony Romo.
Don't even think about it, OK? This was bigger than Romo.
The Dallas Cowboys' raggedy defense gave him -- and the team -- no chance to win Monday night at Soldier Field.
Abject. Pathetic. Shameful. Pitiful. Embarrassing.
Pick any adjective you want, and it's appropriate when describing yet another woeful defensive performance by the Cowboys this season.
Chicago 45, Dallas 28.
Do you have any idea how hard it is to lose by 17 points on a night when the offense commits zero turnovers, the quarterback throws three touchdown passes and the running back gains more than 140 yards?
But this is what happens when a bad defensive scheme is merged with a collection of faux stars and dudes off the street.
Now, the surging Philadelphia Eagles, winners of five straight, have sole possession of first place in the NFC East. For the Cowboys to make the playoffs for the first time since 2009, they probably need to win each of their last three games.
That means beating Green Bay next week, when Aaron Rodgers might return after missing the last five games with a broken collarbone; taking care of Washington, which already has quit on its season; and finishing with a home win over Philadelphia.
"It feels like you gotta win out," Romo said.
The Cowboys drove 75 yards and scored on their first possession to take a 7-0 lead on Dez Bryant's 2-yard catch.
But the 45-28 butt-kicking delivered by the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field did happen in December, so slap another loss on Romo's record in the final month of the regular season.
In case you've been hiding under a rock or had your cable and Internet wiped out by Icemageddon, the lopsided loss drops Romo's career December record to 11-16. Fair or not, only franchise quarterbacks and head coaches get assigned win-loss records in football. That's just a fact.
Here's another dose of reality: Romo will have to be a superhero to give the Cowboys any chance of being successful enough in this December to extend their season.
"I just look at our football team needs to keep improving," Romo said when this theory is presented to him. "We just need to execute better and play better football. We did not play a sound enough and good enough game to win."
That's a bunch of politically correct bull, and Romo knows it.
Romo is smart enough to know how foolish it is to think that a defense that ranks dead last in the league and just got lit up by a journeyman backup is going to be dependable down the stretch. The Cowboys' only hope is to outscore opponents, especially if Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers is cleared to play next week.
Romo might not be willing to say it, but if he doesn't perform magic with his play over the next few weeks, the Cowboys will watch the playoffs from the couch for the fourth straight year. Now is the time to earn the $55 million in guaranteed money from the deal he signed last summer.
Decent isn't going to get it done on a team that features Monte Kiffin's dreadful defense. Romo was just OK against the Bears, completing 11 of 20 passes for 104 yards.
Romo did throw for three touchdowns and had a passer rating of 109.2. That means his December passer rating since 2009, which ranks second Rodgers in that span, got boosted a bit. And his ridiculous touchdown to interception ratio in those games improved to 30:5.
Wait, is this a bad time to bring up those stats? They certainly aren't going to comfort any Cowboys fans after watching Monday's football failure.
Ultimately, all that matters is the Cowboys are 6-8 in games started by Romo in that span. Rational arguments about how much fault falls at his feet can drowned out by the screams about Romo fading when the weather gets cold and the pressure gets hot.
Sometimes, even greatness from Romo can't rescue the Cowboys in December.
There is a pair of glaring examples from the last two seasons. Romo threw for 321 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions in a 37-34 loss to the New York Giants in December 2011. He threw for 416 yards and four scores in a 34-31 loss to the New Orleans Saints last December.
But Romo couldn't cover anyone or make a tackle in either of those games. And the Dallas defense didn't do a whole lot of that sort of thing, either.
"I just think we've got to have everything we can possibly get out of him," owner and general manager Jerry Jones said. "You don't have to be flawless to win a football game, but we've got to count on getting some stops."
The Cowboys can't count on this sorry defense getting any stops, so Romo better be close to flawless to give them any hope to avoid more December misery.
It's time for defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin to go home. It happens to every great coach, because at some point, while they still have the smarts, the message doesn't get through.
Kiffin reminds me of some prize fighter hanging on, knowing they are a shell of themselves, but they keep fighting.
Kiffin's defense defense allowed the Chicago Bears to score on eight of nine offensive possessions in a 45-28 loss on Monday night. The only reason the Bears didn't score on every possession is because they took a knee to end the game.
And the indignity of it all came from Jerry Jones, the team owner/general manager, who said he wants more tricks and more risks from the defense.
Sounds like he wants the man whom he fired last season in Rob Ryan.
The Cowboys have forced 25 turnovers this season.
“They gave us a lot of problems,” Jones said of the Bears. “They're a good offensive team and we suffered because of it. They took us out of our offense. That's the story of the game. But, on the short week, we've got to really turn around (for Green Bay on Sunday). What we told the players, the team's got to do it. We've got to look for a way with whatever gimmick, whatever plan that we can to get the ball and get some either turnovers or get some possessions. Did we ever stop them one time tonight? Didn't they score every time? Yeah, scored every time. That says it all. We've got to try to do something different.”
Kiffin's response: “We blitzed early, you know, and tried to get some pressure and they got the ball off and we mixed it pretty well.”
The Cowboys' defense is not good enough.
Bears quarterback Josh McCown was sacked once and hurried three times. McCown used his big receivers to tear apart the Cowboys pass defense which dropped two interceptions, one by Orlando Scandrick in the end zone. Sterling Moore intercepted a pass, but it was negated by a holding call on Brandon Carr.
The Bears had plays of 41, 37, 34 and 25 yards on Monday. Running back Matt Forte had seven receptions for 73 yards, Brandon Marshall caught six passes for 100, Alshon Jeffery caught five more for 84 yards. Former Cowboys tight ends Martellus Bennett and Dante Rosario combined for six catches for 56 yards.
“We were horrible,” middle linebacker Sean Lee said. “We lost the game. We played terrible. We got dominated. We got to figure out something if we want to get into the playoffs, we got to play a lot better starting with myself.”
Is there still a belief in Kiffin's defense?
“Why you would ask that question,” defensive tackle Jason Hatcher said. "You answer that.”
The Cowboys defensive players are saying the right things.
DeMarcus Ware said he's not playing like himself and he's healthy. Lee said he needs to play better. Carr, too.
The reality is the Cowboys don't have the talent necessary to win with this defense. Kiffin needs to stop playing rookie cornerback B.W. Webb. He's not ready for this level. The Cowboys might need to sit Jeff Heath and return J.J. Wilcox to the starting lineup at free safety.
When you hear Jones talk about tricking things up and wanting more pressure on the quarterback, it reminds me of what he had here for two seasons in Ryan.
We all know Jones wanted more results from Ryan's defense, but injuries and the complex scheme were too much to handle.
Ryan, like Kiffin, is a good coach, but the old man has lost the fastball.
Time to retire. Not at the end of the season, but like right now.
“It sure wasn't a whole lot of fun,” Kiffin said. “We thought going into the game we really were going to play well, I really did.”
Little was known about the outside linebacker, who joined the team’s practice squad after the season had started, but Garrett spoke passionately about Brown after the Cowboys beat the Cincinnati Bengals on Dec. 9, 2012, on a Dan Bailey field goal.
He connected in a way that he has been reluctant to do since taking over as the Cowboys' head coach.
Monday’s circumstances were vastly different than what the Cowboys experienced a year ago. Life is much more important than any football game.
But there was little of that emotion from Garrett after the Cowboys’ 45-28 loss to the Chicago Bears. You wanted to hear that emotion. You wanted to feel that emotion. You wanted some of that Jimmy Johnson that Garrett must have seen when he was a backup quarterback. You wanted some of that Nick Saban that Garrett must have seen when he was the Miami Dolphins quarterbacks coach.
You wanted some of that Garrett you heard from TheMMQB website when he addressed the players to open training camp. And you wanted some of the Garrett you heard in one of the Cowboys’ darkest hours after the loss of Brown.
Instead you got the measured Garrett. You got the businesslike Garrett.
It’s not that anything he said was wrong. The defense was awful. The offense did not capitalize on its chances. The Cowboys need to bounce back when they play the Green Bay Packers on Sunday at AT&T Stadium.
The Cowboys can still achieve what Garrett talked to them about in Oxnard, Calif., at the beginning of training camp. They have just lost their wiggle room. They would need the Philadelphia Eagles to lose one of their intervening two games if Dallas doesn’t beat the Packers to make the Week 17 season finale another de facto NFC East title game.
“Whatever emotion you’re talking about, we all have them,” Garrett said. “You’re disappointed in a lot of different things, but somehow, some way you’ve got to get your focus on what we need to do right now and learn from this game as coaches, as players and make the necessary adjustments to get ready for the next challenge. And that’s where our focus has to be.”
At halftime, the Bears retired Mike Ditka’s No. 89. You wanted some of that Ditka after the game. You wanted some combativeness. You wanted to see anger, not just disappointment. You wanted to hear anger, not just level-headedness.
There is a time for that. It’s when the players get back to work Wednesday. Or it’s when the coaches get back to work Tuesday.
On Monday you needed to see Garrett feel the same hurt you felt. It’s there. There’s no question it is there. He has shown it enough so you know it’s there. You didn’t need Princeton Garrett. You needed Jersey Shore Garrett.
“Certainly it was a disappointing loss for everybody and the loss stings,” Garrett said, “but the worst thing we can do is have a hangover after this loss. It’s a short week, so we have to somehow, someway when the wheels touch down tonight, we’ve got to get back to work and clean up what happened tonight and get ready for Green Bay. The players will be off [Tuesday], back in on Wednesday and we have to get back to work. You have to shake this one off. That’s the nature of this league, particularly on a short week and a big challenge for us in our plays with the Packers on Sunday.”
Garrett’s message was repeated by most everybody else in the locker room. Linebacker Bruce Carter tiptoed to the line of expressing true displeasure.
“It’s very frustrating. Kind of embarrassing at the same time,” Carter said, but then he went to Garrett-speak with, “but we’ve got to learn from it and keep pushing forward. We’ve got three games to go.”
The Bears had nine offensive possessions, scoring five touchdowns, kicking three field goals and taking a knee to end the game. They’re just the third team to have a game without punting this season, joining the Packers and Broncos, with two of those games coming against the Cowboys.
Here were the three biggest keys for Chicago’s victory on Monday Night Football.
McCown Makes Bears History
McCown finished with 348 passing yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. In Bears franchise history, only one other quarterback has had a game in which he threw for over 300 yards with at least four touchdown passes and no interceptions, that was Erik Kramer in a 1995 game that the Bears lost to the Rams.
McCown also added a rushing touchdown in the victory. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, McCown is the first Bears quarterback with five touchdowns (passing plus rushing) in a game since Johnny Lujack did it in 1949.
Bears WR Duo Emerges as Best in NFL
Brandon Marshall finished with 100 receiving yards, giving him over 1,000 on the season, the seventh straight season Marshall has topped 1,000 receiving yards. He’s just the fourth player in Bears history with multiple 1,000-yard receiving seasons for the team.
He and teammate Alshon Jeffery are already over 1,000 yards on the season with three games remaining. They’re just the second set of Bears teammates to each have 1,000 receiving yards in the same season, joining Curtis Conway and Jeff Graham, who did it in 1995.
Marshall and Jeffery have combined for 2,283 receiving yards this season, the most combined yards by a pair of teammates this season.
Cowboys Defense Continues to Struggle
Although Tony Romo is criticized for his record in December and later (with Monday’s loss, his career record in such games is now 13-20), he threw three touchdowns in the loss. Instead, it was the Cowboys defense that struggled, as they've been doing all season.
After allowing 490 yards to the Bears, the Cowboys defense is allowing 426.8 yards per game this season, more than 25 more than any other team.
Dallas is on pace to give up 6,830 yards this season, not only the most in franchise history, but the second-most by any team in NFL history, trailing only last year’s Saints (7,042).
It’s the fifth time this season the Cowboys have allowed at least 490 yards in a game. No other team has two such games this season.
CHICAGO - A few thoughts on the Dallas Cowboys' 45-28 loss to the Chicago Bears on Monday.
What it means for the Cowboys: With this embarrassment, the Cowboys now find themselves chasing the Philadelphia Eagles, and they need to win intervening games versus Green Bay and at Washington to make sure the Week 17 meeting at AT&T Stadium is for the NFC East title.
If they can, they will be in their third straight de facto NFC East title game to close the season. If they can't, owner and general manager Jerry Jones will have to reassess his statement that Jason Garrett will be the coach in 2014.
It's December, so the Cowboys struggle because that's what they do. Tony Romo has taken the brunt of the criticism for that record, but Monday's loss falls squarely on the defense. Josh McCown threw for four touchdowns and ran for another score. Wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall did whatever they wanted against whomever they wanted. Matt Forte ran for more than 100 yards.
If there was ever a sign that Monte Kiffin should be out as coordinator after this season, it was this game. It's one thing to get lit up by Peyton Manning and Drew Brees. It's quite another to have it happen against a backup quarterback, even if McCown had been playing well in Jay Cutler's absence.
Stock watch: DeMarcus Ware, falling. Last week, Ware said the strength had finally returned to the quadriceps that kept him out for three games. But he was invisible versus the Bears before he was gifted a sack in the fourth quarter. Ware has two sacks since his return but is likely to see his streak of having at least 10 sacks in a season end at seven.
There's no defense in Dallas: Blame the injuries all you want, but Rob Ryan at least had an injury-riddled defense competitive last year. Kiffin has had to deal with injuries, but he had zero answers for the Bears.
The Cowboys allowed 24 points in Monday's first half. Only New Orleans and Denver had more against the Cowboys in an opening half (28 each). The Cowboys allowed 32 first downs. Only New Orleans (an NFL-record 40) and Denver (34) had more. The Cowboys allowed 498 yards. Only San Diego (506), Denver (517), Detroit (623) and New Orleans (625) had more. It's the fourth time a quarterback has had four touchdown passes against the Cowboys.
In the first half, the Bears had 12 plays of at least 10 yards. They scored quickly (a 37-second drive) and they ate up clock (90 yards, 8:10).
They did whatever they wanted to do.
Hurt again: Sean Lee made his return to the lineup after a two-game absence because of a hamstring injury but he could not finish the game after suffering a neck injury with 12:33 left in the third quarter.
Lee returned briefly for five plays before he went to the locker room for the rest of the game. Lee has yet to play a full season in his career because of injuries. He is the best playmaker on the defense, but even with him the defense has not been close to adequate. Imagine how bad things would be if Lee missed even more playing time?
The Cowboys might be about to find out.
Hey, a running game: Let's get about the only positive the Cowboys had from Monday's game: They ran the ball well. DeMarco Murray ran for 145 yards on 18 carries. He now has 842 on the year and has a shot at reaching 1,000 for the season.
But why be positive on a night like this?
What's next: The Cowboys return to AT&T Stadium on Sunday to face the Green Bay Packers. The biggest question is whether Aaron Rodgers will make his return from a collarbone injury. If he does, the task is much more difficult. The Cowboys are 5-1 at AT&T Stadium this season, but the Packers have some good memories there as well, having won Super Bowl XLV there.
Starting middle linebacker Sean Lee, who just returned after missing the previous two games with a hamstring injury, left in the third quarter with a neck injury. Team officials said Lee will not return. Ernie Sims replaced Lee in the base defense.
Wide receiver Dwayne Harris, who also returned to the field after missing the Thanksgiving Day game against Oakland with a hamstring injury, re-aggravated the injury in the third quarter. Terrance Williams returned a kickoff after the Bears moved ahead to a 35-14 lead.
Weakside linebacker Bruce Carter injured a hamstring, also in the third quarter and his return was questionable. But on a cold night, the coldest game in Cowboys' regular season history, it appears doubtful he will return.
Lee missed the Cowboys' previous two games with a hamstring injury suffered on Nov. 10 against the New Orleans Saints. He was able to make it through a week of practice and returned to his inside linebacker spot against the Bears.
Lee has yet to play a full season. He missed two games as a rookie with a hamstring injury, one game in 2011 with a dislocated wrist and 10 games last year because of a toe injury that required surgery. The Cowboys signed Lee to a six-year extension in the offseason worth $42 million with a $10 million signing bonus. Some of the money in the future was tied to Lee's playing time in 2013-14.
The Cowboys also lost weakside linebacker Bruce Carter to a hamstring injury on the same drive they lost Lee. Wide receiver Dwayne Harris injured a hamstring on a 43-yard kickoff in the third quarter. He was returning after a one-game absence due to a hamstring injury.