Fans, players, coaches, even beer vendors were relieved when the NFL finally agreed to a new contract with its referees. So now the officiating can stop being part of the story, right? Eh, maybe not. We'll always be talking about the calls on the field. Which gave us an excuse to "officiate" Monday night's Bears game at Dallas.
Bad call: At 6:36 p.m. CDT, LeBron James tweets, "Less than a hour til GameTime!! #CowboyNation." Chicago fans already dislike you, dude. This won't help.
Good call: While ESPN roped a bunch of other players to do their most exaggerated "c'mon, man!" for its segment of that name, Brian Urlacher simply deadpans, "I will not do 'c'mon man,'" shaking his head.
Bad call: Blitzing Dallas quarterback Tony Romo on the first drive. He hits Jason Witten on consecutive plays, the second of which gives Dallas a first down.
Good call: Turning the Bears defensive line loose on its own. Henry Melton sacks Romo on third down, forcing the Cowboys to punt on their first drive.
Good call: Starting Matt Forte. He runs for 8 yards on the Bears' first play from scrimmage.
Bad call: Starting Matt Forte. He leaves after that first play, clearly injured—and clearly ticked off. Get the man an ice pack!
Good call: Signing Michael Bush. He doesn't have Forte's moves, but he's reliable running as well as receiving.
Bad call: Rob Ryan's hair. Way too poofy. The headphones aren't helping the Cowboys defensive coordinator, either.
SCORE: Bears 0, Cowboys 0
Bad call: Putting Forte back in. Maybe the O-line is partly to blame, but he just can't seem to get it going yet. Is he OK?
Good call: Putting Forte back in. He connects on a key block to help set up Brandon Marshall's 18-yard catch for a first down. Later he breaks off a 14-yard run. OK, OK, he looks all right.
Good call: Believing in Jay Cutler. He spins out of a tackle and hits Kellen Davis for a first down on third-and-10.
Good call: Picking up the Bears defense in fantasy football. Charles Tillman makes it look easy with his interception return for a touchdown. They're on fire lately, to say the least. We'll, uh, even forgive the fact they let the Cowboys drive 80 yards for a TD at the end of the first half.
SCORE: Bears 10, Cowboys 7
Good call: Rediscovering Devin Hester. After he makes a stutter-step move, Cutler fires a strike for a 34-yard TD. With his speed, shouldn't he be open more often?
Bad call: The fan with the cartoonish helmet and sunglasses who appears onscreen for a split-second. We hope your mom isn't watching, buddy.
Good call: See what we mean about the Bears D? This time Major Wright picks off Romo.
Bad call: Holding onto the ball too long. Cutler gets sacked and coughs it up. Maybe the defense will bail him out again.
Good call: Holding onto the quarterback. Henry Melton puts the squeeze on Romo, and Lance Briggs takes an easy interception for a 74-yard score. That was easy!
Good call: What's ruled a fumble and recovery by the Cowboys is overturned to rule Bears receiver Alshon Jeffery down by contact. Dodged a bullet there! Of course, if you're a Dallas fan, you don't see it that way.
SCORE: Bears 24, Cowboys 10
Good call: Throwing it to Brandon Marshall when he's one on one. Cutler recognizes the mismatch and hits the big guy for 30 yards.
Bad call: Calling the wrong penalty. We get why pass interference was overturned because of a tipped ball intended for Marshall, but how was that not defensive holding?
Bad call: Checking in on the White Sox and Cubs. By this time in the Bears game, Detroit has clinched the AL Central and the Cubs have lost game No. 100. Good thing we're not paying attention anymore.
Good call: Staying up late with the Bears. Romo's fourth interception—this one by D.J. Moore—pretty much ices this one. And just for good measure, Marshall practically walks in with a 31-yard catch for a touchdown. Sleep easy, Bears fans.
FINAL SCORE: Bears 34, Cowboys 18
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