ARLINGTON, Texas — A national television audience got a good glimpse of the stout defense and volatile yet improving offense that has defined the first quarter of the
The defense intercepted
five times — with
returning their picks for touchdowns — and quarterback
completely outdueled Romo in a 34-18 rout of the
on Monday night before a vocal contingent of Bears fans among the 90,080 at Cowboys Stadium.
The Bears moved to 3-1 to remain in a tie with the upstart
. The return of running back
gave the offense a little boost as he carried 13 times for 52 yards, and Cutler fired touchdown passes to
and Brandon Marshall.
"Just outstanding play for our defense," coach
said. "It seemed like everyone had a say in it. In order to get (five interceptions), you have to have pressure."
camera captured Cutler as he blew off offensive coordinator
on the sideline in the second quarter. The scene — in which Tice approached Cutler at the bench to talk, and Cutler abruptly took off — occurred after the Bears failed to convert a third-and-1 and settled for a 43-yard
field goal. It quickly spread over the Internet.
The Bears will do their best to label it a non-story, but it comes two weeks after Cutler bumped left tackle
in Green Bay.
"It's not anything," Cutler said. "I don't have to sit by (Tice) the whole game, do I? We can't read into everything. ... You can't blow up every headline. Things happen during football games. Just because I walk off and get water doesn't mean much."
Against what had been the
's No. 1 defense, Cutler completed 18 of 24 passes for 275 yards and made big plays downfield with the offensive line doing a solid job controlling outside linebacker
. Marshall caught seven passes for 138 yards, including a 31-yard touchdown against blown coverage in the fourth quarter, and tight end
showed up with three catches for 62 yards.
Romo was downright awful. A mixup between him and wide receiver
set up Tillman for an easy 25-yard return for a touchdown, the franchise-record sixth interception return for a score in his career. That put the Bears ahead 10-0 late in the second quarter before the Cowboys (2-2) responded with an 80-yard drive capped by Romo's 10-yard touchdown pass to Miles Austin.
But the Bears marched right downfield to open the third quarter, going ahead 17-7 on Hester's 34-yard touchdown.
The defense made up for a Cutler fumble when tackle
forced Romo to cough the ball up, and Briggs returned the interception 74 yards for a 24-7 lead.
Romo completed 31 of 43 passes for 307 yards. Strong safety
had two interceptions, one on a ball that went off wide receiver
In the fourth quarter, with the Bears holding on to a 17-point lead, nickel cornerback
picked off Romo, making up for some earlier missed tackles, and Romo finally was yanked for
. The defense also throttled Cowboys running back
, limiting him to 24 yards on 11 carries.
The victory represents the first for the Bears against a team that wasn't a doormat last season. It's hard to say what home victories over the
represented. But this was a road victory against a team many expect to compete in the
. Maybe it didn't set the tone when the Bears won here in Week 2 of 2010, but it was an early confidence builder. This game could provide the same benefit, as the defense is playing with a swagger.
What should not be lost in the victory was a solid effort for the scrutinized offensive line. Cutler was sacked only twice, once when he held the ball too long and once on a bootleg that didn't materialize. The line's play, at least for a week, was encouraging.
"The way that offensive line is blocking, it's making it easy for me," Cutler said. "That was the best rhythm we have had offensively, in and out of the huddle, all year. We've just got to take that momentum and keep it rolling."