Dallas receiver Miles Austin is tackled by Bears cornerback Zack Bowman… (Getty Images )
Among the fond memories Chicago has of Mike Ditka--the mustache, the screaming, the cigars--near the top of the list is that in most of the games he coached or played, the Bears found a way to win when he played on or coached the team. Scoring every time you have the ball is a pretty cool bonus.
The Bears busted up Dallas on Monday night at Soldier Field, pulling into a first-place tie with Detroit in the NFC North for the time being. (The Bears must finish one game ahead of the Lions to win the division.) They never punted, and they never turned the ball over in their 45-28 victory.
As for Ditka, although he is not renowned for his patience, he waited almost 50 years to have his No. 89 retired, which the Bears did during a halftime ceremony Monday.
On the field, the Bears thawed their playoff chances. We mean that literally--Monday's temps dipped to around 10 degrees by kickoff with the wind chill at minus-9.
Not that Ditka would ever accept a little cold as an excuse. In honor of Da Coach, here are Monday's highlights on a scale of 1 to 5 Ditka staches.
5 staches: TD Michael Bush! The. Bears would be laughing at the Cowboys at this point. If they could get their teeth to stop chattering.
1 stache: Major Wright chases down DeMarco Murray, saving a touchdown. Wright missed last week, so clearly he came back just in time.
4 staches: Robbie Gould knocks another field goal through, and it's 45-21. Meanwhile, the fans rush toward the exits. Normally that would be frowned upon, but not with a minus-9 wind chill.
3 staches: Kyle Orton enters the game at quarterback for the Cowboys. Long live the neck beard!
5 staches: The Bears' record (7-6) looks ugly at first. But throw in the fact that they're tied with Detroit for first in the NFC North and it's oh so pretty.
Final score: Bears 45, Dallas 28
4 staches: Matt Forte takes a Josh McCown pass and dashes 34 yards, breaking tackles along the way.
5 staches: Forte TD! That caps an old-school Bears drive. All running backs, all the time.
2 staches: Look at Robbie Gould getting his hands dirty on a kickoff return tackle. That could have been worse. Much worse. 4 staches: No one on the Bears wanted a sack more than former Cowboy Jeremiah Ratliff. Done and done; get that man a lasso! Score: Bears 35, Dallas 14
4 staches: James Anderson sacks Dallas quarterback Tony Romo on third down, forcing a punt. Just like another No. 50. The one Ditka coached. Who was also named Mike. That can't be a coincidence.
3 staches: Josh McCown scrambles for a first down thanks to a crushing block by Brandon Marshall. That's the perfect Ditka receiver!
5 staches: Touchdown run by Josh McCown! He even did that Jim McMahon helicopter spin like in the 1985 season. Everyone is in throwback mode tonight. 1 stache: Tony Romo connects with Jason Witten for a 10-yard TD strike. Hold up, now the Bears have to stop the passing game, too?! 4 staches: Alshon Jeffery makes a terrific 26-yard snag over a defender, and the Cowboys generously tack on a 15-yard roughing-the-passer penalty. Double clutch. 3 staches: The Bears settle for a 27-yard field goal by Robbie Gould. Kickers aren't known as some of the toughest guys in football, but Ditka might make an exception for one of the best ever. 5 staches: Al. Shon. Jeffery. The Bears' "other" star receiver is a straight-up freak the way. In a good way. Because he makes such extraordinary catches.
1 stache: First play from scrimmage and Dallas' DeMarco Murray runs for 19 yards. Uh oh. There's that Bears run defense again, ranked last in the NFL.
1 stache: Aaaaand Dez Bryant catches a short TD pass to put Dallas up 7-0. Numbers on the Cowboys' opening drive: 12 plays, 75 yards, zero resistance.
2 staches: Martellus Bennett catches a pass for 11 yards and a first down on the Bears' first play. Psshh, just because it's cold doesn't mean you have to run the ball.
3 staches: Josh McCown hits Alshon Jeffery with a first down pass of 15 yards, even with a defender blanketing him. Get it? Blanket? Because it's cold out?
2 staches: Matt Forte zips around the right side for 12 yards and a first down. That play might come in handy.
5 staches: Earl Bennett sighting! McCown hits him with a 4-yard touchdown pass to tie the game. The Bears D was bad on the first drive, and Dallas' defense was ... just as bad. Good thing, too.
Score: Bears 7, Dallas 7
3 staches: Robbie Gould is having trouble making 45-yard field goals. Probably because kicking a ball in this cold is like kicking a rock. Or Ditka's jaw.
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