The Bears (1-0) and Cowboys (0-1), who meet today in Dallas, were on opposite sides of disallowed last-second touchdowns, but otherwise have much in common after one week of the 2010 NFL season.
Tony Romo knows how Calvin Johnson felt last week.
“I ran for 10 or 15 yards thinking we’d won,” Romo said about celebrating his last-play touchdown pass against Washington that was wiped out by an obvious holding penalty. “It’s a tough, tough thing when you think you’ve won and then you realize you lost.”
The Bears (1-0) and Cowboys (0-1), who meet today in Dallas, were on opposite sides of disallowed last-second touchdowns, but otherwise have much in common after one week of the 2010 NFL season. Consider:
- The Bears (463 yards) and Cowboys (380) rank No. 1 and No. 5 in the NFL in offense but scored only 19 and 7 points.
“We moved the ball up and down the field and would have a mistake that would end that drive. It’s frustrating,” Romo said in a teleconference.
The Bears made even more mistakes, with four turnovers and 100 yards in penalties. But those 463 yards have them seeing their glass as half full.
“The only people that are going to stop us at this point is ourselves,” Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler said.
- Both teams’ No. 1 worry is their offensive line.
Chicago allowed four sacks and had four holding penalties last week. Dallas right tackle Alex Barron had three holding penalties, including the one that lost the game on the final play. But starting left guard Kyle Kosier and right tackle Marc Colombo – Jerry Angelo’s first-ever draft pick with the Bears in 2002 – returned to practice Wednesday, the first time in four weeks Dallas had its starting line intact. Both had minor knee injuries.
- Romo often compensates for missed blocks.
“He creates plays when plays aren’t there,” Bears safety Chris Harris said.
Cutler also gives Chicago its best scrambling quarterback since Jim Harbaugh in the early 1990s. The Bears have taken advantage of that by calling more rollouts.
“It’s good to get out of the pocket,” Cutler said. “We do well when we get outside.”
- Chicago signed Julius Peppers (81 sacks in eight years) to provide an instant pass rush. Dallas already had that with DeMarcus Ware (64.5 sacks in five years). “He’s a special player,” Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz said of Ware.
- Both teams rotate two star runners, Matt Forte and Chester Taylor for the Bears and Marion Barber and Felix Jones (with a little Tashard Choice thrown in) for the Cowboys. “They can pound the ball with any one of them,” Chris Harris said of the Cowboys.
- Both teams even have coaching staffs on the brink. While this has been defined as a make-or-break year for Lovie Smith in Chicago, Wade Phillips has been under fire three years in a row in Dallas, despite a 33-16 record as the Cowboys’ coach.
“That’s part of being here, and that’s the good thing about it,” Phillips said. “You want there to be pressure to do well. That helps your team get better.
“It happens everywhere. Chicago, they have high expectations, too. A lot of teams have high expectations. But you have to follow up with it.”
Edging a Detroit team that is 3-38 in its last 41 games on a last-minute non-touchdown doesn’t count as Chicago meeting high expectations. But winning in Dallas sure would.
“To be a good football team,” Smith said, “you have to go on the road and win.”
Matt Trowbridge can be reached at 815-987-1383 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
KEYS TO THE GAME
Bears keys to the game
Score in the red zone. And not just field goals. Chicago scored three points on three drives inside the 10 last week. “If you put a good drive together, you can’t get down to the 3 and kick a field goal,” tight end Greg Olsen said. “You have to take advantage of those opportunities because they are not easy to come by.”
Get a big kick return. Devin Hester (punts) and Danieal Manning (kickoffs) were quiet last week. Chicago needs more against Dallas. “I’m not pushing the panic button,” Hester said. “The majority of teams are trying to kick it toward the sideline to pin me in the corner, but I did get some shots down the middle. I’ve just got to make a play on it. I’m hoping they are not scared of me. That way, I can get a fastball pitch down the middle and I can knock it out of the park and start all over again.”
Play clean. Chicago was penalized nine times for 100 yards last week, including major penalties on team leaders Brian Urlacher, Julius Peppers and Olin Kreutz. “You can’t have that,” coach Lovie Smith said. “But a lot of times in the first game those things pop up. That’s more than we normally have. We’re on top of it.”
Prediction: Cowboys 24, Bears 13.