CHICAGO -- Josh McCown and the Chicago Bears made the NFL's worst passing defense look the part Monday in a 45-28 victory over the Dallas Cowboys Monday at frigid Soldier Field.
McCown passed for 348 yards, four touchdowns and rushed for another score, keeping the Bears (7-6) tied with the Detroit Lions atop the NFC North. The veteran backup thriving in head coach Marc Trestman's offense was 27 of 36 passing.
It was the fifth time this season the Cowboys allowed more than 345 passing yards.
The Cowboys didn't force a punt -- the Bears scored on their first eight possessions. The only time they didn't score was their last possession, which was just one play, the final kneeldown. Robbie Gould's third field goal of the game came with 3:47 left in the game to give Chicago a 24-point margin. The Cowboys later scored in the final seconds to narrow the gap to 17.
Dallas used running back DeMarco Murray as a weapon in the first half, but couldn't stay close enough to attack the NFL's worst run defense in the second half. Murray had 20 carries for 102 yards, the first time he cleared those totals since Sept. 22 against the St. Louis Rams (26-175).
Quarterback Tony Romo threw a touchdown pass to Cole Beasley with 10:52 remaining in the game and the Cowboys cut the Bears lead in half, 42-21. Romo finished 11 of 20 for 103 yards with three touchdowns.
The Bears scored 36 seconds into the fourth quarter on a swing pass to running back Michael Bush. Chicago had jumped ahead 35-14 with 2:30 remaining in the third quarter.
With Cowboys Pro Bowl middle linebacker Sean Lee on the sideline with a neck injury, the Bears marched 90 yards on a run-dominated drive capped by a 4-yard touchdown pass from McCown to running back Matt Forte with 2:20 left in the third quarter. McCown, nearly intercepted twice and picked once on a play overturned by defensive holding on the third-quarter touchdown drive, hit wide receiver Brandon Marshall for the two-point conversion.
Chicago led 24-14 after a fast-paced first half that included 20 total plays of 10-plus yards against overmatched defenses.
Following McCown's first consecutive incompletions in the game, Gould pushed the Bears ahead 17-14 with a 27-yard field goal with 1:33 left in the first half. The Cowboys punted the ball back to Chicago with 47 seconds on the clock, and the Bears found the end zone in five plays and 37 seconds. McCown threw his second touchdown pass, a 25-yarder to the back-right corner of the end zone hauled in by Jeffery in highlight-reel, toe-tapping fashion over cornerback B.W. Webb.
McCown was 18 of 23 for 222 yards and a 7-yard rushing touchdown in the first half as Jeffery victimized Webb for five receptions for 84 yards.
After riding Murray for 99 yards on 13 carries in the first 24 minutes of the game, the Cowboys tied the game at 14 on a play-action pass from Romo to tight end Jason Witten. Witten crossed from Romo's left to the right and beat three defenders to the pylon.
Bears wide receiver Earl Bennett caught a 4-yard touchdown from McCown on Chicago's first drive to match the Cowboys, 7-7. Receiver Dez Bryant's 2-yard scoring grab 5:58 into the game staked Dallas to the early lead.
NOTES: The Bears retired the jersey number (89) of former TE Mike Ditka, who played for the Cowboys and Bears and was a five-time Pro Bowl pick before spending 12 years as head coach in Chicago. Ditka was honored at halftime and is the 14th player to have his number retired by the franchise. ... Cowboys MLB Sean Lee, in his return from a two-game absence with a hamstring injury, left the game on the first possession of the third quarter with a neck injury. He returned briefly on the next possession before being ruled out for the game. Return man Dwayne Harris (hamstring) also left in the third quarter and did not return. ... Bears QB Jay Cutler was inactive for the fifth time in six games. LB Lance Briggs, who fractured his shoulder Oct. 20, was also inactive. ... The Cowboys were without two starters: CB Morris Claiborne and LB Justin Durant were inactive with hamstring injuries. ... Temperature at kickoff was 8 degrees with a wind-chill factor of minus-9 and wind gusts of 23 mph. ... Bears WR Brandon Marshall went over 1,000 receiving yards for the seventh consecutive season.