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Bears can take much from victory against Cowboys in 2010

Chicago Bears cornerback Tim Jennings (26) celebrates with center RoberGarz(63) second half an NFL football game Chicago Sunday Sept. 23

Chicago Bears cornerback Tim Jennings (26) celebrates with center Roberto Garza (63) in the second half of an NFL football game in Chicago, Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012. The Bears won 23-6. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

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Updated: October 1, 2012 6:41PM



ARLINGTON, Texas —
Just by not being Mike Martz, Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice has had the wind at his back since being promoted after last season.

On Monday, though, he’ll have to measure up to arguably Martz’s greatest triumph in his two seasons as the Bears’ offensive coordinator: a 27-20 come-from-behind victory against the Cowboys in Week 2 of the 2010 season at Cowboys Stadium.

That game was a victory for Tice, as well — and quarterback Jay Cutler, too — which only increases the scrutiny of a Bears offense that has been great, bad and good enough in three games this season. How well have they learned to handle the adversity of a 3-4 pass-rushing defense in a marquee road game since Cutler was sacked seven times in a 23-10 loss Sept. 13 to the Packers?

They figured it out in a matter of minutes at Cowboys Stadium in 2010. Cutler was sacked twice and hit five times in seven pass plays on the Bears’ first three possessions. Left tackle Chris Williams sufferd a hamstring injury on the first series.

But the Bears found a way to survive. Kevin Shaffer replaced Williams. When that wasn’t working, Tice flipped Shaffer to right tackle and moved Frank Omiyale to left tackle.

And Cutler and Martz not only found a way to neutralize the Cowboys’ frothing pass rush but beat it. A quick throw to Devin Hester for 19 yards and a quick throw to Greg Olsen for a 39-yard touchdown, and the Bears were on their way.

Suddenly, Cutler had time to throw a 59-yard bomb to Johnny Knox. Hester made the best catch of his NFL career, a one-handed grab while dragging both feet to stay in bounds in the back corner of the end zone. Cutler’s passer rating (136.7) was the second-highest of his career on the road. And the Bears won with 38 rushing yards and two yards per carry, tied for their fewest rushing yards in a victory during the Super Bowl era.

Tice helped to settle down an offensive line that was in disarray in that game. Now he has an even bigger task as the coordinator.

It won’t be easy. As Tice noted last week, the Bears ‘‘have a checklist of things we have to do better.’’ And that checklist is long enough that everything won’t be done at once.

‘‘We’ve got to work at getting better at something each game without taking any steps backward,’’ Tice said.

That’s not an impossible task against a Cowboys team that creates its own problems even better than the Bears do. DeMarcus Ware is one of the best pass rushers in the NFL, but he can be contained. He had two sacks against the Giants in Week 1
and two sacks last week against the Buccaneers — both Cowboys victories. But he was shut out in a 27-7 loss to the Seahawks in
Week 2. The Seahawks’ starting left tackle that day? Omiyale.

The Bears don’t have an ‘‘anchor’’ on their offensive line, but they have a lot of guys who can get the job done with a little help, a little communication and a lot of teamwork.

Nobody expects J’Marcus Webb or Gabe Carimi to become Joe Thomas or Jake Long overnight — or ever, at this point. But Tice knows there’s still a way to get the job done. It has happened before.

BEARS AT COWBOYS

Time: 7:30 p.m. Monday, Cowboys Stadium.
TV: ESPN, Ch. 9 (Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden).
Radio: 780-AM, 105.9-FM. • Line: Cowboys by 31/2.

X-FACTOR

The Bears are 6-7 in prime-time games with Jay Cutler at quarterback, but they’re 4-1 on ‘‘Monday Night Football.’’ With a big Cowboys Stadium crowd of 85,000-plus stoked for a prime-time game, the Bears will be challenged to avoid false-start penalties, let alone communicate well enough to run their offense. In 2010, Cutler withstood an early onslaught of pressure to rally the Bears to a 27-20 victory.SPECIAL TEAMS

Dez Bryant had a 62-yard punt return for a touchdown against the Bears in 2010, the only punt or kickoff return for a touchdown the Bears have allowed since 2007. Bryant had a 44-yard punt return against the Bucs last week. The Bears still are trying to break Devin Hester loose, but they’re getting closer. Hester had a 19-yard punt return and a 37-yard kickoff return last week. The Cowboys’ are allowing 19.3 yards on kickoff returns and 4.4 on punt returns.

On the ground

Matt Forte is questionable with a sprained ankle. But after missing Forte last week (Michael Bush and Kahlil Bell combined for 75 yards on 28 carries), the Bears could use their No. 1 rusher against a big pass-rushing team on the road. The loss of FB Evan Rodriguez (knee) doesn’t help. It’ll be up to the offensive line — in its second week with run-blocker Chilo Rachal at LG — to give Forte and/or Bush room to run, especially on first down. The Cowboys allowed 182 rushing yards against the Seahawks, but 149 of them came in the second half — after the Seahawks had taken a 13-7 lead.

key matchup

Ware has six consecutive seasons of double-digit sacks and has four already this season. Webb has struggled to contain anybody without help and eventually needs to stand on his own two feet. This would be a great place to start.

in the air

Jay Cutler’s 58.9 passer rating (31st in the NFL) is a cause for concern. But his 52.7 percent completion rate is particularly troubling, continuing a steady decline from 63.6 to 62.3 to 60.5 to 60.4 to 58.0 the last five seasons. He likely will need to sustain drives against a Cowboys defense ranked No. 2 against the pass. Brandon Marshall had five catches for 103 yards and a 34-yard touchdown against the Cowboys last season. The Cowboys upgraded their secondary with Brandon Carr, but Marshall also had a touchdown catch against Carr and the Chiefs last season.

On the ground

The Bears held Rams RB Steven Jackson to 29 yards on 11 carries last week, but they will be challenged to stop second-year Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray (50 carries, 213 yards this season). Murray rushed 20 times for 131 yards against the Giants in Week 1 but has been held to 12-44 by the Seahawks and 18-38 by the Bucs since then. The Bears, ranked sixth against the run (76 ypg), should win the battle in the trenches. The Cowboys’ offensive line has new starters at all five spots from 2011; the Bears’ defensive line has been their strength, with Stephen Paea and Henry Melton playing a big role in the middle.

key matchup

Romo is a noted scrambler who is adept at buying time to find receivers downfield. The Bears counter with athletic ends Peppers and rookie Shea McClellin, whose job it will be to prevent Romo from escaping the pocket.

in the air

Romo is always dangerous, but if you keep the pressure on, there’s always the chance he’ll make a mistake. Romo had a big game against the Giants in Week 1
(22-for-29, 307 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT,
129.5 rating), but he has been mediocre the last two weeks against the Seahawks (74.1) and Bucs (75.1). Receivers Miles Austin (14-243, 2 TDs) and Dez Bryant (13-164) are dangerous but not world-beaters. The X-factor is unheralded Kevin Ogletree
(14-197, 2 TDs). Bears cornerback Tim Jennings leads the NFL with four interceptions in the first three games.

The Cowboys

Coach: Jason Garrett
Record: 2-1

Offensive starters

No. Player Pos. Inj.

9 Tony Romo QB

19 Miles Austin WR P

29 DeMarco Murray RB

47 Lawrence Vickers FB P

63 Ryan Cook C

68 Doug Free T

71 Nate Livings G

73 Mackenzy Bernadeau G

77 Tyron Smith T

82 Jason Witten TE

88 Dez Bryant WR

defensive starters

24 Morris Claiborne CB

39 Brandon Carr CB

40 Danny McCray S

43 Gerald Sensabaugh S P

50 Sean Lee LB

54 Bruce Carter LB

92 Josh Brent DT

93 Anthony Spencer LB Q

94 DeMarcus Ware LB P

96 Marcus Spears DE P

97 Jason Hatcher DE

Special teams/
reserves

2 Moorman, Brian P

5 Dan Bailey PK

6 Chris Jones P D

11 Cole Beasley WR

15 Andre Holmes WR

17 Dwayne Harris WR

18 Kyle Orton QB

21 Mike Jenkins CB

23 LeQuan Lewis CB

27 Eric Frampton S

28 Felix Jones RB

32 Orlando Scandrick CB

34 Phillip Tanner RB

37 Matt Johnson SS out

51 Kyle Wilber DE P

52 Dan Connor LB

55 Alex Albright LB out

57 Victor Butler LB

58 Orie Lemon LB

62 David Arkin OG

67 Phil Costa C out

70 Tyrone Crawford DE

76 Derrick Dockery OG

78 Jermey Parnell OT

84 James Hanna TE

85 Kevin Ogletree WR

89 John Phillips TE

90 Jay Ratliff DT out

91 L.P. LaDouceur LS

95 Sean Lissemore DE P

99 Kenyon Coleman DE out

The Bears

Coach: Lovie Smith
Record: 2-1

Offensive starters

No. Player Pos. Inj.

6 Jay Cutler QB

15 Brandon Marshall WR

22 Matt Forte RB Q

23 Devin Hester WR

60 Lance Louis G

63 Roberto Garza C

62 Chilo Rachal G

72 Gabe Carimi T

73 J’Marcus Webb T

87 Kellen Davis TE

89 Matt Spaeth TE

DEFENSIVE starters

21 Major Wright SS

26 Tim Jennings CB

33 Charles Tillman CB

47 Chris Conte FS

53 Nick Roach LB

54 Brian Urlacher LB

55 Lance Briggs LB

71 Israel Idonije DE

69 Henry Melton DT

90 Julius Peppers DE

92 Stephen Paea DT

Special teams/
reserves

2 Jason Campbell QB

8 Adam Podlesh P

9 Robbie Gould PK

14 Eric Weems WR

17 Alshon Jeffery WR

18 Dane Sanzenbacher WR

20 Craig Steltz S

24 Kelvin Hayden CB

25 Armando Allen RB

27 Sherrick McManis CB

29 Michael Bush RB

30 D.J. Moore CB

37 Anthony Walters S

46 Jeremy Jones DB

48 Evan Rodriguez TE out

52 Blake Costanzo LB

58 Geno Hayes LB

62 Chilo Rachal OG

65 Patrick Mannelly LS

70 Edwin Williams OG

74 Chris Williams OG

75 Matt Toeaina DT

79 Jonathan Scott OT

80 Earl Bennett WR Q

86 Kyle Adams TE

91 Amobi Okoye DT

93 Nate Collins DT

95 Cheta Ozougwu LB

97 J.T. Thomas LB

98 Corey Wootton DE

99 Shea McClellin LB



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