The Cowboys made a statement in their Week 8 victory over the Chicago Bears. Trouncing their previous scoring totals and posting their highest victory margin so far in 2022, Dallas finally looked more like the number-one offense from last year again and established clear contender status in the NFC.
Let’s look deeper into each unit’s performance as we grade the offense, defense, special teams, and coaching staff’s work against Chicago. How did each contribute to the big win, and is there still room for improvement as we head into the second half of the season?
Cowboys Offense: A-
It was a nearly flawless performance on this side of the ball. Dallas scored touchdowns on its first four possessions, three of which came from QB Dak Prescott with two passing and one rushing. They marched the field for 75, 69, 75, and 54 yards on those four drives, executing to near perfection.
The Cowboys faltered just before halftime, getting the ball with just 40 seconds left on the clock and trying too hard to get into scoring range. Prescott threw an interception and the Bears were set up for a field goal that gave them some hope for the second half. Dallas also had a three-and-out on their first possession in the third quarter, helping Chicago narrow the gap to just five points.
Still, outside of those missteps, it really was a great day overall. Dallas responded with two more touchdown drives to put the Bears away. RB Tony Pollard put on a show with 131 rushing yards and three touchdowns on just 14 carries, benefitting from some great run blocking but also using his skills to make some big gains. His 54-yard scoring run never happens without Pollard’s speed and tackle-breaking ability.
In addition to blocking well for Tony, the offensive line did a good job overall of giving Prescott clean pockets and only gave up one sack. Dallas racked up 200 total yards on the ground, taking pressure off the passing attack and contributing greatly to the dominant victory.
Cowboys Defense: B-
Giving up 29 points and 371 total yards to a middling team wasn’t a great day for the Dallas defense. But some of those points were on the offense for the issues we noted above, and the defense still came up big in key moments to help put the game away.
Run defense continues to be a struggle. Chicago earned a whopping 240 yards rushing. While most of that came from the running backs, QB Justin Fields had 60 rushing yards and continued a bad trend we’ve seen of mobile quarterbacks hurting Dallas on the ground. But the Cowboys haven’t been much more effective against the traditional runners either, making this a real concern area for the team to shore up before the playoffs.
It would’ve been a better showing if not for a questionable roughing the passer call that negated a Trevon Diggs interception late in the first half. The Bears scored on the very next play, pulling within two scores and getting a much-needed hope injection just before the break. The call against DE Chauncey Golston was on the softer side, and it hit Dallas much harder than he ever touched Justin Fields.
Thankfully, the big play came later with Micah Parsons’ fumble return for a touchdown. It was a backbreaker for Chicago, who’d narrowed the gap to five points before two quick touchdowns by Dallas’ offense and defense restored the blowout. Overall, the Cowboys’ defense made the plays needed to win but it was arguably their worst game so far in 2022, and was hidden behind the big day on the other side of the ball.
Cowboys Special Teams: A
This is getting a bit repetitive, but there just isn’t much you can complain about with this group. No mistakes, no misses, and a few nice moments sprinkled in that helped the Cowboys post such a lopsided win.
Bryan Anger only had to punt twice but made the most of them, with one bouncing for 83 yards and the other going for 59. While he’s had a few bad kicks this season, Anger still does great work overall and put those Pro Bowl skills on full display in this one.
Kicker Brett Maher never had to attempt a field goal thanks to the offensive efficiency, but he did get tasked with seven extra points and banged all of them right down the middle. After two years of watching Greg Zuerlein’s extra points often flirt with the goalposts, Maher’s consistency on even these short-range kicks has been comforting.
Cowboys Coaches: B+
There was significant “trap game” potential in this one that the team deftly avoided. The offense looked the best it has all season and the defense, while dealing with mounting injuries and some chronic struggles, still handled business overall. While we’ve been impressed with second-half adjustments throughout the year, it was nice to see the Cowboys come out and exert their will right from kickoff.
Clearly, Dan Quinn has to figure something out about this run defense. It’s become a repetitive issue and is especially scary given what the Philadelphia Eagles bring to the table. If the Cowboys can’t figure this out then they’re going to have a hard time in December’s rematch with Philly.
Hopefully, personnel changes will help. Sunday was DT Johnathan Hankins’ first game in Dallas and he made a good impact, but still needs time to integrate and get even more effective. Hopefully young linebackers Damone Clark and Jabril Cox will be able to put their superior speed to work and hold up well in other responsibilities. It also doesn’t help that our best run-supporting safeties keep going down with injuries.
It was a good day overall but one where the Cowboys probably got away with some things thanks to the quality of the opponent. We’ll see how the coaches use that over the bye week to help get the team ready for the postseason push.