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Chicago Bears defense ‘unacceptable’ in loss to Dallas Cowboys

ARLINGTON, Texas — Of the many statistics that marked the Chicago Bears defense’s inability to stop the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday at AT&T Stadium, here’s one that didn’t make it into the playbook.

In the visiting locker room after the Cowboys’ 49-29 win, Bears linebacker Roquan Smith used the word “embarrassing” three times and “unacceptable” three times, including the words “unforgivable” and “unpleasant.”

Safety Eddie Jackson added to that tally.

“That’s what it is — it’s embarrassing,” Jackson said. “The offense scored (almost) 30 points. It’s like, what else can you expect?”

In the afternoon, as the Bears’ offense continued to grow, the defense was almost powerless to stop quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Tony Pollard from the start.

The Cowboys were in the end zone on their first four drives and 6 of 9 overall before the final kneel-down battle. They punted twice and Jackson intercepted Prescott on the second rush, one of the defense’s few big plays. The Cowboys converted 9 of 11 third downs, and Bears coach Matt Eberflus said the Cowboys had too many third-and-short situations.

“Everybody has to look at themselves in the mirror and we just have to grow from it and get better,” Smith said. “Because there were mistakes. They were simple mistakes, but they cost us dearly.”

Prescott was playing in his second game since a thumb injury kept him out for five games, but he didn’t show any of the rust he had in Week 7. He completed 21 of 27 passes for 250 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 34 yards and a touchdown.

The Bears only sacked Prescott once, and Jackson said the Bears players got “angry” when the Cowboys picked up the pace. Several other Bears players mentioned they weren’t ready for the Cowboys’ game plan.

“There was nothing where we were like, ‘Oh, they can’t handle this,'” Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy said of the uptick. “Did we actually average 58 plays per game? So we wanted to go up and get as many hits as possible no matter who the opponent was. I think that speaks to the confidence we have as an offense.”

While the Cowboys showed injured running back Ezekiel Elliott cheering on the sideline on their massive video board above the field, Pollard made sure they almost missed Elliott. Pollard rushed for 131 yards and three touchdowns on 14 carries — 9.4 yards per carry.

Pollard’s 54-yard touchdown run on third-and-1 early in the fourth quarter was the Cowboys’ final dagger. Jackson went behind the line of scrimmage to chase Pollard, but Jackson and Smith tripped each other. Pollard left linebacker Nicholas Morrow leaping for his ankles at the 50-yard line and safety Jaquan Brisker clinging to his legs at the 5.

It was far from the only time Pollard eluded Bears defenders, including a nasty cut by Jackson on an 18-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.

“He’s a shifty guy, a quick guy,” Jackson said. “Hits holes, gets to the second level well and tries to make guys miss. Today he did it. We’ve seen it on film, what he does. We didn’t control him very well.”

The Bears defense had an emotional week. After an upset 33-14 win over the New England Patriots on Monday, general manager Ryan Powles traded respected veteran and team captain Robert Quinn to the Philadelphia Eagles on Wednesday. Throughout the week, Bears players admitted the trade was difficult for them on and off the field.

But Jackson, who was named captain in Quinn’s place, didn’t use that as an excuse.

“I’m not going to blame it on that,” Jackson said. “As men, we have a job to do. We have to come here and prepare well and we have to execute. I felt it was a poor performance today.

“To come out and let them score the first (four) drives, that’s not us. So we have to fix it — and fast.”

Bears safety Eddie Jackson (4) returns an interception against the Cowboys in the second quarter Sunday, Oct. 30, 2022, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Jackson’s fourth interception of the season — on the road after a Justin Fields touchdown pass — appeared to give the Bears halftime momentum. Kicker Cairo Santos made a field goal to cut the Cowboys’ lead to 28-17.

But after the Bears cut it to five points in the third quarter, the Cowboys put together a 75-yard touchdown drive, sparked by Prescott’s hits to tight end Dalton Schultz of 30 and 14 yards. Pollard capped it off with his second 7-yard touchdown run.

Three plays later, quarterback Micah Parsons returned a 36-yard touchdown to put the momentum back in favor of the Cowboys.

The performance came after the Bears held the Washington Commanders and New England Patriots to 12 and 14 points in back-to-back weeks. Eberflus stressed that the Bears’ quarterbacks need to get back to basics as they look to recover from a tough road trip.

“We didn’t do a very good job, really all day, of defending the run,” Eberfluss said. “We didn’t do a good job of closing our gaps, keeping our responsibilities.

“I told the guys after the game, the guys are going to watch the tape and you’re going to see it. You will see that there is no mystery here. It’s about good fundamentals, technique. And you have to do it down and down to play good defense.”


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