Cutler’s 3 TD passes lift Bears past Cowboys 27-20; Dallas 0-2 for first time since ‘01By Jaime Aron, AP
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Cutler’s 3 TD passes lead Bears past Cowboys 27-20
ARLINGTON, Texas — Tony Romo walked toward the locker room thinking about all the mistakes the Dallas Cowboys made and all the crucial plays they hadn’t, the 0-2 hole they’re in and the lack of an easy way out.
With nothing else he could do about it Sunday afternoon, Romo smacked his hand against a wall in frustration.
Romo threw two weird interceptions and was far from crisp, his running game was absent and his defense failed to protect two early leads, letting Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears pull out a 27-20 victory Sunday.
Despite all their woes, the Cowboys had a chance to tie it midway through the fourth quarter when new kicker David Buehler badly pulled a 44-yard field goal. After Cutler stretched the lead, Romo began a quick rally that could’ve kept things close, then receiver Roy Williams lost a fumble fighting for extra yards.
Now a club that’s hoping to end its season in the Super Bowl at Cowboys Stadium walks away from its home opener in the same building mired at 0-2, its worst start since 2001 — the season Quincy Carter replaced Troy Aikman as quarterback. The problems are so widespread there doesn’t seem to be a quick-fix.
“We’ve got to do things better and we need to figure out in a hurry how,” Romo said.
Fans of “America’s Team” will recall the 1993 club started 0-2 and finished as Super Bowl champs, but they were coming off a title and played the first two games without Emmitt Smith because of a contract dispute. This team might be losing key players.
Tight end Jason Witten left midway through the fourth after slamming his head into the turf. Coach Wade Phillips would only say Witten “got banged up to where we had to hold him out.” Pro Bowl cornerback Mike Jenkins hurt his right knee soon after and is scheduled to have an MRI Monday.
“I think it is a crossroads right now,” Phillips said.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he’s trying to be patient, with Buehler (who also missed a 34-yarder in the opener) and everyone else.
“The best thing I can do right now is not knee-jerk,” he said.
However, Jones added, “I’m mad, I’m upset, I’m very frustrated and extremely disappointed.”
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 a team that was expected to be among the best in the NFC.
D.J. Moore had both interceptions, Charles Tillman forced Williams’ fumble and Robbie Gould made field goals of 38 and 40 yards as the Bears improved to 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.”
Cutler was 21 of 29 for 277 yards. He ended up getting sacked only once, despite losing left tackle Chris Williams to a hamstring injury in the first quarter. He didn’t have any interceptions, and had a knack for making plays at the right time.
Once offensive coordinator Mike Martz had him to make quick dropbacks, Cutler shredded a blitz by hitting Greg Olsen in a vacated part of the field for a 39-yard touchdown.
“It was a basic play,” Olsen said. “We just executed exactly what he (Martz) said. If you execute the offense exactly how it’s meant to be, most of the time you’ll be in good position to do well.”
The next series, Cutler hit a 59-yarder to Johnny Knox on third-and-15, then found Devin Hester in the corner of the end zone for another touchdown.
Both drives came right after Dallas had scored touchdowns to go ahead 7-3 and 10-7.
Cutler iced the game on a short throw to Hester that the speedster turned into a 38-yard gain. Cutler followed with a 3-yard TD lob to Matt Forte.
Knox caught four passes for 86 yards. Hester, who had just one catch on the opening drive last week, caught four passes for 77 yards.
“We knew we were going to get their best punch early,” Cutler said. “Once we settled down and started attacking more, we were OK.”
Cutler had interceptions in all but four games last season on his way to an NFL-worst 26. He had another last week, but a Dallas defense that failed to come up with a turnover last week, and struggled to do so last season, came up blank again.
Romo was 34 of 51 for 374 yards and a 1-yard touchdown pass to rookie fullback Chris Gronkowski. Miles Austin catch 10 passes for 142 yards. Williams had four catches for 53 yards.
Cowboys offensive coordinator Jason Garrett gave up on the run early, despite the game being close. It also was a surprise considering the return of injured linemen Marc Colombo and Kyle Kosier. Marion Barber had five rushes for 27 yards in the first quarter, then four for 4 yards the rest of the game. Felix Jones gained 7 yards on seven carries as Dallas finished with 36 yards on 20 carries.
Dallas also got a 62-yard punt return for a touchdown from rookie Dez Bryant.
NOTES: Down six with 20 seconds left in the half, 80 yards to go, Dallas took a knee this time, avoiding any chance of the colossal mistake it made in the opener. … Hester’s TD withstood a challenge. Replays on giant HD screen showed he may not have gotten second foot down after switching hands with the ball. … Chicago had lost two straight to Dallas and three straight at the Cowboys’ home.
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