The Cowboys gave up 450 passing yards to Eli Manning, 401 to Philip Rivers, 414 to Peyton Manning, 488 to Matthew Stafford and 392 to Drew Brees. But that was Manning, Rivers, Manning, Stafford and Brees.
This was Josh McCown.
The Bears backup quarterback, making only his 38th career start in 11 seasons, made like a Pro Bowler in torching the Cowboys.
McCown, starting his fifth game this season in place of Jay Cutler, had passed for 355 and 352 yards each of the past two weeks. So it wasn’t farfetched when a Cowboys official admitted the night before the game that the Cowboys would just as soon be facing a rusty Cutler.
McCown completed 27 of 36 passes for 348 yards with four touchdowns.
“At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what quarterback it is if you’re not playing fundamentally sound and not in the right place at the right time and also, in the key situations, when it’s third down, you don’t get off the field,” Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Ware said. “You can’t give them more opportunities.”
The Bears had 490 yards, 33 first downs, 23 plays of 10 or more yards, converted eight of 11 third downs and never punted. They scored on all eight possessions.
“We were horrible,” Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee said. “We lost the game. We played terrible. We got dominated. So we’ve got to figure out something if we want to get into the playoffs. We’ve got to play a lot better.”
The Cowboys’ pass defense entered the game ranked 31st. It left ranking 32nd as the Eagles allowed only 148 yards to the Lions in snowy Philadelphia on Sunday.
The Cowboys have allowed 3,880 passing yards, only 14 yards from the third-worst pass defense in team history. They are on pace to allow a team-record 4,775 this season. The NFL record is the 4,796 passing yards the 2011 Green Bay Packers allowed.
And Aaron Rodgers, who has missed the past five games with a fractured left collarbone, could be next up for the Cowboys. He likely got a lot healthier Monday night watching the Cowboys defense.
The Cowboys had only a handful of chances to stop the Bears, and they blew those. Orlando Scandrick and Bruce Carter dropped interceptions, and Sterling Moore had his interception overturned by a holding penalty on Brandon Carr.
Otherwise, the Bears had their way with the Cowboys despite a cold night that was supposed to make it difficult to throw.
“Things didn’t really go our way today,” Cowboys safety Barry Church said.
The Cowboys lost Lee (neck) and Carter (hamstring). Both have hope they can play next week against the Packers.
But the Cowboys need to play better defense regardless of who plays or whom they play against.
“We have to go back to work and fix it,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “We have to play better. We have responded well on a couple of occasions this year. We have to do that again. We have to play better run defense. We have to minimize plays in the passing game. We have to do a better job affecting the passer. We have to do a better job on the back end.”