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Bears put on ‘Monday Night’ show for 34-18 win over host Cowboys

ARLINGTON TX - OCTOBER 01:  Major Wright #21 celebrates with Corey Woott#98 Chicago Bears after Wright intercepted ball against

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 01: Major Wright #21 celebrates with Corey Wootton #98 of the Chicago Bears after Wright intercepted the ball against the Dallas Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium on October 1, 2012 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

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Updated: December 1, 2012 2:00AM

ARLINGTON, Texas — Leading up to the game, the Monday Night Football spotlight focused on the lightning rod quarterbacks, Jay Cutler and Tony Romo.

But the Bears defense stole the show, scoring two touchdowns and largely stifling the Dallas Cowboys’ star-studded offense in a resounding 34-18 victory.

The Bears won the coin toss at Cowboys Stadium and deferred, based largely on the offense’s struggles to open games this season. They were 0-1 when they won the coin toss this season, and Bears were 4-5 in 2011, usually opting to give its special teams and offense a chance to build some early momentum. But the defense has been the rock this season, and they forced a punt in their own territory when defensive tackle Henry Melton – well on his way to making the Pro Bowl – earned his fourth sack of the season on third down.

The Bears offense did strike first, with Jay Cutler leading a 13-play, 69-yard drive that ended with a 43-yard Robbie Gould field goal. But, on the next series, Romo and receiver Dez Bryant got their wires crossed, as the quarterback tossed the ball to a wide-open Charles Tillman, who bobbled the ball but controlled it before gliding 25 yards into the end zone for a touchdown.

Tillman surely will send Romo a card for the early Christmas present.

The Cowboys answered with a touchdown drive just before halftime, making the score 10-7. But the Bears outscored the Cowboys 24-3 in the second half, until the home team scored a meaningless touchdown with 34 seconds remaining.

“We met a Chicago team that made big plays with the ball,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. “They took care of the ball. They made plays with the ball. We didn’t.

“We got beat soundly. That’s all there is to it. I’m very disappointed to get beat at home in front of our fans. We thought a lot was at stake here. We got a long way to go.”

The Bears improved to 8-2 on ‘‘Monday Night Football’’ under Lovie Smith.

‘‘It’s a big stage,’’ Smith said. ‘‘Everyone is watching you.’’

The Cowboys have their bye, while the Bears have a short turnaround, heading to Jacksonville to face the 1-3 Jaguars Sunday. Then, the Bears will have their bye weekend.

But the Bears feel like they’re rolling now, especially on offense, putting up 360 net offensive yards on a Cowboys defense that entered the game ranked No. 1.

“That was the best rhythm we have had offensively,” Cutler said, “in and out of the huddle, all year.”

Cutler drew some early attention on television, when he walked away from Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice, who sat down next to him on the bench to chat in the second quarter. But Cutler and Tice were clearly on the same page moving forward, as the Bears offense moved the ball efficiently and piled on the points late.

“It wasn’t about anything,” Cutler said. “I don’t have to sit by him the whole game, do I?”

Cutler finished 18 of 24 for 275 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. His passer rating was 140.1.

Tony Romo had a much rougher night.

He had communication issues with his receivers, who also dropped several passes. But Romo still tossed five interceptions, two of them returned for touchdowns.

“All that I could say is, I’ve been buried nine feet under before with no hope and got to see some sunshine and came out,” Jones said of his message to his team. “It’s what you have to do. It’s very disappointed. Nobody is more disappointed than our fans and players. Nobody is more disappointed than Tony.

“There is no question about it.”

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