This week, the NFL’s Thursday night football matchup consisted of a showdown between the Chicago Bears and the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Both teams’ seasons are in need of a last-minute resurgence for their playoff hopes, which shows how quickly teams can change, as last season both squads easily made their way into the post-season. The game would end in a 31-24 victory for the Bears as quarterback Mitchell Trubisky found his stride and the Bears’ stout front seven made some crucial stops.
After throwing an early interception in the red zone on the Bears’ first drive, Trubisky shook off the rough start for one of his best performances of the year. Trubisky finished the night completing 23 passes on 31 attempts, good for 244 yards and three touchdowns. Trubisky’s mobility was also in full swing, as he put up 63 rushing yards on 10 attempts, including a 23-yard scamper for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. The connection between wide receiver Allen Robinson and Trubisky continued to develop as Robinson hauled in five catches for 48 yards and two touchdowns. Head coach Matt Nagy will continue to try and strengthen the connection between the talented wideout and his young quarterback, which will be crucial to the offensive success of the Bears for the remainder of this season and for years to come. The Bears defense let up a touchdown on the Cowboys’ opening drive, following Trubisky’s interception, then planted their feet in the ground and dominated defensively until the fourth quarter. After building up a lead to 31-14 in the fourth quarter, the Bears defense let up 10 points to quarterback Dak Prescott and the Cowboys, creating hopes for a comeback. However, Dallas kicked their field goal to make the score 31-24 with just 12 seconds remaining in the contest and failed to secure the ensuing onside kick, closing out the game.
Dallas continues to struggle on both sides of the ball after steamrolling teams in September and early October. After going 7-0 on a promising opening drive, the Cowboys offense was held scoreless until their late comeback attempt.
Prescott completed 27 of his 49 passes, good for only a 55% completion rate. Although Prescott threw for 334 yards and a touchdown, the young quarterback seemed off and continued to miss open receivers in clutch moments. A large aspect of the Cowboys’ offensive struggle was getting running back Ezekiel Elliott fully involved, which head coach Jason Garrett couldn’t do. Elliott ended the night with 81 yards and two touchdowns on only 19 carries, leaving questions as to whether or not Elliott’s totes should’ve been higher. The Cowboys’ two top wide receiver options continue to ball out with Prescott slinging them the ball. Wide receiver Amari Cooper hauled in six receptions for 83 yards and a touchdown, while second fiddle receiver Micheal Gallup ended the night with six receptions for 109 yards. On defense, the Cowboys’ season-long struggles continued as they let Trubisky carve them up for 24 points over the first three quarters. Though they forced two turnovers, their ability to capitalize on the turnover ratio was not apparent.
As the end of the season approaches, the Bears need to increase their three-game winning streak to keep their playoff hopes alive. They currently sit two games behind the closest playoff team, the Minnesota Vikings, in a competitive NFC playoff picture. The Cowboys, although having a losing season at 6-7, hold the top spot in the NFC East. With a Philadelphia Eagles win, the Cowboys will be tied for the top spot in the division.