Take a quick glance at the tale of the tape for Monday night’s showdown between the Chicago Bears and Dallas Cowboys.
Bears Pro Bowl RB Matt Forte resumed practicing this week after injuring his ankle against Green Bay in Week 2, but it's unknown how much - if at all - he'll play on Monday. Chicago's offense ranks 27th overall and 28th in passing with Jay Cutler at the helm. His passer rating of 58.6 is second worst among qualifiers, ahead of only Miami rookie Ryan Tannehill (58.3).
Dallas could use a little more help from DeMarco Murray. The running back had 131 yards in a season-opening win over the Giants but has totaled just 82 over the past two games. The Cowboys offense has been sputtering lately, producing just two touchdowns in the past eight quarters. Tight end Jason Witten and wideout Dez Bryant have yet to record a TD reception this season.
The Chicago defense recorded six of its league-best 14 sacks and forced two interceptions, one returned 45 yards for a TD by Major Wright in a convincing win over the Rams last week. The Bears boasts the sixth-ranked rushing defense, allowing only 76 yards per game and lead the league in third-down defense since Lovie Smith took over as coach. The Chicago stop unit has yielded first downs just 24.3 percent of the time this season on the oppositions’ third down.
Dallas held Tampa Bay to just 166 total yards en route to a 16-10 victory and leads the NFL in fewest yards allowed (250 YPG). Safety Gerald Sensabaugh, who missed last week’s game with a calf straight, expects to play on Monday and will have a keen eye on Bears WR Brandon Marshall.
Bears special team’s coordinator Dave Toub said last week Devin Hester was close to breaking a return for a TD. Hester has had one kickoff return of at least 31 yards in each of the first three games and has punt returns of 19 and 23 yards.
The last time the Bears allowed a punt return TD was against the host Cowboys in Week 2 of 2010, when then rookie Dez Bryant rumbled for a 62-yard score. Bryant has a 44-yard return this season but is averaging just 6.4 yards.
Word on the street
"We've been around Tony (Romo) long enough that we can tell, based on his facial expressions, how he's feeling. He shows his emotions to us. So he doesn't have to say anything. We see what he's going through." – Cowboys offensive guard Nate Livings on the recent lack of protection the unit has provided QB Tony Romo.
“We try to get him the ball. It doesn’t always work out, like that one in the end zone (against the Rams on Sunday) that was designed for him. Basically it was a one-man route. We’re trying to find ways to get him the ball. Sometimes the coverage dictates we’re going to go to him, sometimes it doesn’t.” - Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice on Hester’s recent frustration with his role within the team's offense.