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A couple of notes from the Sunday night after the Bears’ big win:
Witten finished with five catches for 51 yards and was noticeably upset on the sidelines when the doctors determined he could not return.
A player has to be symptom free in order to be able to return.
The policy states, “The player should not be considered for return-to-football activities until he is fully asymptomatic, both at rest and after exertion, has a normal neurological examination, normal neuropsychological testing, and has been cleared to return by both his team physician(s) and the independent neurological consultant.”
That’s a good policy — we have seen just this week how it can affect a player with the Bears’ Hunter Hillenmeyer out for the season with a concussion. Concussions are a serious problem in today’s NFL. Given the violent nature of the game, there may be no way to avoid them completely — but give credit to the league for at least acknowledging that it’s an issue.
Arlington, TX (Sports Network) - Jay Cutler threw for 277 yards with three touchdowns and the Chicago Bears spoiled Dallas' home opener with a 27-20 win at Cowboys Stadium.
Cutler was 21-of-29 for the Bears, who are off to their first 2-0 start since 2006, a year in which the franchise represented the NFC in the Super Bowl.
Dallas quarterback Tony Romo completed 34-of-51 passes for 374 yards with one touchdown. However, he was picked off twice by Chicago cornerback D.J. Moore.
Miles Austin posted 142 yards on 10 receptions for the Cowboys, who hadn't opened a season 0-2 in nine years.
David Buehler kicked a 28-yard field goal to trim Dallas' deficit to 20-17 in the third quarter, but hooked a potential game-tying 44-yarder wide left midway through the fourth.
"(Chicago) made the plays and we didn't," said Dallas head coach Wade Phillips. "We had some opportunities, but we didn't make plays. The missed field goal (really hurt us). I thought we had a letdown. We went out on the field after the missed field goal with our heads down."
The Bears extended their lead to 10 with a quick jaunt to the end zone. After a pair of completions put the ball the Dallas 41, Devin Hester caught a short pass, eluded a defender and raced 38 yards. Cutler and Matt Forte hooked up on the next play to give Chicago a 10-point lead with 5:16 remaining.
Romo led Dallas into Chicago territory, but a Roy Williams fumble derailed the drive.
The Cowboys got the ball back after a punt and Buehler made a 48-yard field goal with 1:17 left, but the comeback fell short when Chicago hauled in the onside kick.
"We knew what type of team we were seeing," said Chicago head coach Lovie Smith. "Coming off a loss, you normally get the best effort from the team on the other side. We had good practices this past week and felt like we had some good matchups offensively against their defense."
Romo was picked off by Moore on Dallas' first possession. Charles Tillman drilled Austin and Moore was able to corral the ball before it hit the turf. The turnover led to a 38-yard field goal by Robbie Gould.
Rookie Dez Bryant returned a punt 62 yards for a touchdown to give Dallas a 7-3 lead with 2:44 remaining in the first quarter, but the Bears answered less than two minutes later after the Cowboys' decision to attempt an onside kick backfired and gave Chicago great field position.
Cutler ended the three-play, 58-yard drive by hitting Greg Olsen on a toss over the middle and he took it 39 yards for a score to put Chicago up 10-7 with 69 seconds left.
Dallas regained the lead on its next series, with a one-yard TD pass from Romo to Chris Gronkowski off of play-action, capping a 13-play, 73-yard march.
The back-and-forth action continued as the Bears responded on the ensuing drive. Facing a 3rd-and-15 from his own 21, Cutler hit Johnny Knox in stride for a 59-yard gain. Three plays later, Hester made a nifty one-handed grab in the back corner of the end zone for a nine-yard TD with 3:38 to play in the second quarter.
Moore hauled in another deflected ball on the Cowboys' next series. This time, it was tight end Jason Witten who couldn't reel in a pass from Romo. The Bears took over at Dallas' 47, and Gould converted a 40-yarder to give Chicago a 20-14 halftime lead.
Marion Barber was limited to 31 yards on 11 carries for Dallas...Knox caught four passes for 86 yards, while Hester had four receptions for 77 yards...The Bears snapped a three-game losing streak in Dallas, winning on the road in this series for the first time since a 24-10 decision over the Cowboys in the 1986 regular-season finale...Bears left tackle Chris Williams left in the first quarter with a hamstring injury and did not return...Cowboys cornerback Mike Jenkins suffered an injury to his right knee and will have an MRI on Monday.
The only scoring in the third quarter was a Dallas field goal early in the third quarter. There was no other scoring in the quarter.
After a 59-yard pass to Johnny Knox, Jay Cutler hit Devin Hester for a nine-yard touchdown in the left corner of the Dallas end zone. Dallas challenged the call and lost as replays clearly showed Hester in complete control of the all as he came down in the end zone.
Robbie Gould closed out the first half with a 40-yard field goal.
After scoring first in the first quarter with a field goal, Cutler being sakced and the Cowboys with a runaway touchdown, the Bears came back at the end of the quarter with a touchdown of their own to end the first quarter winning 10-7. Howeer, the Bears lost Major Wright on the Cowboys first punt return with a hamstring injury.
Via tweet from Zach Zaidman:
Earl Bennett is dressed for today’s game. Nick Roach is not. So the Bears with just 5 linebackers today.
The Chicago Sun-Times’ Mark Potash profiles Marc Colombo, the Bears’ No. 1 pick in 2002, and uses him as an example of how he thinks the entire Bears system is broken:
When the Bears had Colombo, even Dr. James Andrews couldn’t figure it out. But with the Cowboys, Colombo started 57 consecutive games for one of the best offenses in the NFL until suffering a broken leg in November.
Maybe that’s just life in the NFL. But Colombo isn’t the only player the Bears couldn’t seem to return to old form. Offensive tackle Mike Gandy was cut in 2004 at least in part because of chronic aches and pains — to make room for Colombo, speaking of ironies — and ended up starting 79 consecutive games for the Bills and Cardinals, including Super Bowl XLIII. Tommie Harris hasn’t been the same since getting injured. Remember Mike Brown? Nathan Vasher?
So when it comes to Colombo, it leads me to wonder: What did the Cowboys do that the Bears couldn’t?
The answer, as best I can tell, is Joe Juraszek, a native South Sider (St. Rita ’76) who roots for the Cubs and is the Cowboys’ strength and conditioning coach. The Cowboys have had an enviable record on player injuries and rehabilitation since Juraszek joined the team in 1997. The Cowboys had the fewest games missed by starters (14) in the NFL last season. They were one of two teams that did not have a player on injured reserve.
So is it Jerry Angelo? Lovie Smith? The Bears’ entire culture? How did the Bears make the Super Bowl in 2006 and go into a tailspin after that?
The Cowboys didn’t look great in their opening game against a not-so-good Redskins team and stand at 0-1 going into their home opener this afternoon. It’s a pivotal game for both the Cowboys and Bears.
The Chicago Bears have released their latest injury report of the week and, surprisingly, it looks better than it did earlier in the week.
Devin Aromashodu, Matt Forte and Earl Bennett were all left off of Friday’s injury report after being listed earlier in the week which means they will be fully available against the Dallas Cowboys this weekend.
Linebacker Nick Roach (hamstring) was listed as questionable and fellow LB Lance Briggs (ankle) was listed as probable to round out the injury report.
Hunter Hillenmeyer, as has been discussed earlier this week, has been placed on the Injured Reserve.
Chicago Breaking Sports has some comments from Hunter Hillenmeyer on the Bears’ decision to put him on injured reserve:
“I still fought a battle at halftime of that day,” he said. "I’m like, ‘I know I should tell the doctors but I don’t want to come out of the game.’ I feel like if I am fighting that battle in my head, then you know there are guys who have a much less secure roster spot and aren’t vested veterans who know that they don’t have to worry about the financial part of the situation, they might not even know and not care.
“The system is never going to be perfect. Anything they could do like that whether it’s adding people to the roster or finding something where it’s not an all-or-nothing, IR-and-you’re-done for-the-year situation, I think would set up incentives for players to be more candid about their symptoms.”
That’s really the crux of the issue. Players don’t want to come out of games or tell coaches they think they have a problem because they feel they’ll be viewed as weak or unwilling to play through injuries, which all athletes do.
But when it comes to concussions — brain injuries — it’s good that the NFL and teams are being more proactive, because football is a much more violent game than it was years ago. Even so, many former players who are now in their 60s are feeling the effects of all that contact to their head, as chronicled in the Sun-Times Rick Telander’s excellent series on football’s effects on the brain.
It’s something the NFL has to address, and soon, before someone gets killed on the playing field.
(Sports Network) - Good fortune played a part in the Chicago Bears' successful beginning to the 2010 season, while poor execution is the main reason why the Dallas Cowboys are still in search of their first victory.
The Cowboys will be out to improve upon a sloppy Week 1 showing when the reigning NFC East champions host a Chicago team seeking its first win in Dallas in 24 years this Sunday at Cowboys Stadium.
A litany of mistakes along with one questionable decision were the primary culprits in the Cowboys' frustrating 13-7 season-opening loss at division- rival Washington this past Sunday. Dallas was whistled for 12 penalties, including a holding call by replacement right tackle Alex Barron on the game's last play that wiped out a would-be 13-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Tony Romo to wide receiver Roy Williams, and committed one very costly turnover that ultimately decided the final outcome.
With the Cowboys opting to run a play in their own end in lieu of killing the clock in the closing seconds of the first half, running back Tashard Choice was stripped of the ball after catching a short Romo pass. Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall raced 32 yards into the end zone with the fumble, giving his team a 10-0 lead Dallas could never overcome.
Barron was flagged a total of three times filling in for Marc Colombo, who sat out the contest recuperating from knee surgery performed last month but is expected to be back in the lineup this week. Regular left guard Kyle Kosier, also absent from the opener with a sprained knee, is slated to return to his post as well.
Bears head coach Lovie Smith used some rather bizarre judgement as well in his club's opening-week matchup with Detroit, spurning a chip-shot field goal try with under nine minutes left and Chicago trailing by a point for a chance at a touchdown on 4th-and-1. The Lions would repel the attempt by stuffing running back Matt Forte short of the goal line.
The Bears wound up prevailing anyhow by a 19-14 score, partly due to a 372- yard, two-touchdown performance by quarterback Jay Cutler and a defense that limited Detroit to a meager 168 yards while producing three takeaways. Chicago also got the benefit of a controversial officials' call that nullified a potential game-winning touchdown catch by the Lions' Calvin Johnson in the final minute of play.
With that result now behind them, the Bears can focus on obtaining their first 2-0 start since 2006, a year in which the franchise represented the NFC in the Super Bowl. They'll also be vying for their first victory as the visitor in this series since a Mike Ditka-coached Chicago squad posted a 24-10 decision over the Cowboys in the 1986 regular-season finale. The Bears have lost three straight times in Dallas since.
Dallas officially begins its second season in the extravagant Cowboys Stadium, the site of Super Bowl XLV this coming February. Including an opening-round triumph over Philadelphia in the NFC Wild Card Playoffs, the Cowboys went 7-2 in the first year of their new home and won six of those games by 14 points or more.
Dallas leads the all-time regular season series with Chicago, 11-8, including a 34-10 road victory when the teams last met, in Week 3 of the 2007 season. The Cowboys were 21-7 winners when the teams last met in Big D, on Thanksgiving Day 2004. The Bears' most recent series win was a 13-12 affair at Soldier Field in 1998, and Chicago is 0-3 in Dallas since last winning there in 1986.
In addition to their regular season edge, the Cowboys also hold a 2-0 lead in the all-time postseason series, winning an NFC Divisional Playoff at home in 1977 and an NFC First-Round Playoff at Soldier Field in 1991.
Dallas head coach Wade Phillips is 3-0 in his career against Chicago, including wins while with the Broncos in 1993 and Bills in 1998. Smith is 0-2 against the Cowboys in his career, and 0-1 head-to-head versus Phillips.
WHEN THE BEARS HAVE THE BALL
The anticipated debut of a new-look Chicago offense directed by highly- regarded coordinator Mike Martz would have to be considered a modest success, as Cutler (372 passing yards, 2 TD) had his highest yardage output since joining the Bears in a well-publicized 2009 trade with Denver and was only intercepted once, a recurring problem for the rocket-armed triggerman last season. The defense-deficient Lions may have had something to do with that large total, however. Many of Cutler's throws were underneath stuff to Forte, who took a short screen 89 yards to paydirt in the second quarter and finished with a career-best 151 yards and two scores on seven catches out of the backfield, backfield mate Chester Taylor (3 receptions, 44 yards) and tight end Greg Olsen (4 receptions, 37 yards). Cutler was sacked four times behind a shaky offensive line on Sunday, which helps explain the reluctance to go deep, and also didn't get much help from a suspect group of wide receivers. Top target Devin Aromashodu did have five catches for 71 yards in the win, but nearly as many drops as well. The running game wasn't a big factor either, with Forte mustering only 50 yards on 17 carries and the Bears twice failing to deliver touchdowns in 1st-and-goal situations during the game.
Chicago's protection issues could be exposed by a Dallas defense that's been quite adept at rushing the passer over the past few years. Though the Cowboys only recorded one sack of Washington's Donovan McNabb in Week 1, they were consistently able to disrupt the veteran quarterback's timing with pressure, resulting in a subpar 47 percent completion rate. Outside linebackers DeMarcus Ware (6 tackles, 1 sack) and Anthony Spencer (3 tackles) excel at creating heat off the edge, while All-Pro nose tackle Jay Ratliff is an outstanding interior rusher who's garnered 13 1/2 sacks over the previous two seasons. Cornerbacks Mike Jenkins (2 tackles, 1 PD) and Terence Newman (3 tackles) are also key components on a unit that yielded just 161 net passing yards to the Redskins. The Cowboys can play the run as well, having allowed the fourth- fewest yards (90.5 ypg) on the ground a year ago and holding Washington to 89 rushing yards last Sunday. Dallas is particularly stout inside, where Ratliff can wreak havoc up front and linebackers Bradie James (8 tackles, 1 PD) and Keith Brooking (7 tackles, 1 PD) are both intelligent and experienced.
WHEN THE COWBOYS HAVE THE BALL
A Dallas offense that contains a wealth of playmakers still looks like a work in progress at this early stage of the season. The Cowboys didn't have much trouble moving the ball in the middle of the field against Washington, but scored on only one of three red-zone trips and was continually set back by penalties. The chemistry between Romo (282 passing yards, 1 TD) and wide receiver Miles Austin seems to be in midseason form, however, as the 2009 breakout star hauled in 10 of his quarterback's throws for 146 yards and the team's only touchdown in the opener. Rookie sensation Dez Bryant (56 receiving yards) added eight grabs in his pro debut, albeit mostly on short quick looks as the Cowboys took few shots down the field behind the makeshift front line. Getting Colombo and Kosier back should help open up the play-calling and aid the ground attack as well, though the backfield duo of Marion Barber (8 carries, 39 yards) and Felix Jones (8 carries, 38 yards) were both effective when they had their number called last week. Tight end Jason Witten, Dallas' leader in receptions in each of the last three years, should also benefit from the reinforcements up front, as the perennial Pro Bowler had a pedestrian three catches for 27 yards while often called upon to pass protect.
A major disappointment in 2009, the Chicago defense acquitted itself far better in last week's lid-lifter and received big contributions from two of its expected anchors. End Julius Peppers made an immediate impact in his first game since signing a hefty six-year free-agent contract during the offseason, as the ex-Panther notched a critical sack on Detroit's Matthew Stafford that forced a fumble that set up a Bears field goal and also knocked the young quarterback out of the game. Middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, playing for the first time since suffering a year-ending dislocated wrist in Week 1 of last season, racked up eight tackles and a sack while spearheading a front seven that held the Lions to a paltry 20 rushing yards on 21 attempts. Weakside starter Lance Briggs (10 tackles, 1 PD) had an active afternoon as well, with cornerbacks Charles Tillman (4 tackles, 1 INT) and Zackary Bowman (6 tackles) keeping the dangerous Calvin Johnson in check to help assist an all-around fine effort under new coordinator Rod Marinelli.
Forte was one of the fantasy stars of the Week 1 slate, and the versatile back's top-notch receiving skills make him safe to use in all formats and a absolute must in points-per-reception leagues. Cutler could be primed for a big year as well in the Martz system, but owners would be wise to glance over all available options in a matchup against a tough defense this week. The Cowboys did have some trouble covering the tight end last week, giving Olsen a bump in value, and Taylor might not be a bad choice as a flex player, as he may get more of a look in short-yardage scenarios after Forte struggled badly in that area in the opener. The Chicago wide receivers still need to show more, however, before getting a recommendation here. Austin certainly gets a thumbs-up on the Dallas side, though, as does Witten and a Cowboys defense that will be facing a questionable offensive line and a quarterback with a tendency for turnovers. Romo's almost always a solid start, but the timeshare between Bryant and Williams at the No. 2 receiver spot assigns risk to both players. Among the top two Dallas running backs, Barber appears to be the safer play as the likely starter and goal-line guy.
Last week's careless performance should serve as a wakeup call to a Dallas team that has an overall talent advantage on its opponent and will be playing at home. While an offense that's yet to mesh may remain out of sorts against a Chicago stop unit that looks pretty legitimate, the Cowboys defense will show the way in this one by stuffing the run and harassing Cutler into a few pivotal mistakes that will create short fields and turn a close contest into a relatively easy win for the defending NFC East champions.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Cowboys 24, Bears 9
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