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SportsMondayTuesday: Bears Win vs. Cowboys Lose

The Bears' pick-sixes won the game, and were great sequences for Charles Tillman and Lance Briggs, who have entertained with extreme competence around here for a long, long time.

The Cowboys' pick-sixes lost the game, and were horrible sequences for Tony Romo and Dez Bryant.

And Tillman's touchdown return when Bryant failed to make a simple sight adjustment was just one of several instances last night when ESPN's Mike Tirico and especially Jon Gruden rightly focused on what the Cowboys did wrong rather than what the Bears did right in their comprehensive 34-18 victory.

While Bryant failed to make the adjustment on the ball he gave away, Tillman absolutely didn't - he knew what Cowboy quarterback Tony Romo wanted to do better than the intended pass-catcher.

Then there was the matter of making the catch. After an initial bobble, Tillman deployed both pinkies and at least one ring finger to just barely fight off gravity and pull the ball in. After coming within less than an inch of letting the play slip away, the run to the end zone was absolute gravy.

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As ESPNDallas writer Calvin Watkins points out, Bryant managed to catch eight balls for 105 games and still have a terrible game. He's getting absolutely roasted in Texas.

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The second pick-six needs to be changed because, well, first of all it was obviously a fumble. If Briggs hadn't caught the ball on the fly, the question would have been if Romo's arm was moving forward with control of the football (at least for a moment or two) before the ball popped out. If it had been then the play would have been ruled an incomplete pass.

But it wasn't close. Romo hadn't even begun to bring his arms up to load the ball into launch position. You can say Romo was trying to shovel the ball to a receiver but careful review shows that isn't accurate. He was holding the ball in front of his body and trying to avoid the pass rush.

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The other big reason this needs to be changed is that then Henry Melton would be credited with a richly deserved sack (his second of the evening) and forced fumble.

Melton, who should take a turn in the media spotlight this week in the delightful drama that we hereby dub "As the Bears Awesome Defensive Line Turns," brought his arm crashing down on the football and popped it out.

For a long time, Bears fans have counted on Briggs to cover large swaths of territory in pass defense and to step up and make form tackles on running backs who have lost their way and ventured too close to the perennial All-Pro. But Briggs has only rarely made the sort of splashy play that ends up leading highlight packages.

This return was splashy and then some. In fact, it was an epic cannonball that featured slick little evasive moves at the start and impressive break-away speed in the middle. Cornerback Tim Jennings made his customary appearance in the midst of Bear defensive greatness this year when he hustled to get out ahead of his teammate and provide him with a little bit of a block but in the end it was all Briggs.

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Other defensive highlights included sure tackling all over the field led by nickel back D.J. Moore, who had already piled up nine tackles before he capped off his evening with a richly deserved interception of his own. And Major Wright made a beautiful play on the ball for the Bears' final pick in the final five minutes. It was his second interception of the night and his third of the season.

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The only negative . . .

The first half walkaway from Mike Tice was another less than stellar bit of theater from Jay Cutler. I suppose we should just be happy there wasn't any visible berating/bumping but things are never perfect with this signal-caller, that's for sure.

This is the monster the Bears have, if not created then the monster they have augmented, a quarterback who can't even be counted on to respectfully sit and talk to his offensive coordinator. Cutler may have learned yet another offensive coordinator's playbook, but he doesn't seem to have learned any lessons.

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Jim "Coach" Coffman is our man on Mondays Tuesdays. He welcomes your comments.

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Posted on Jul 24, 2017

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