The Dallas Cowboys don’t talk about their December woes. That's according to their starting quarterback Tony Romo, who has watched the team collapse in the final month of the NFL regular season for the last four years.
“Yeah, we don’t talk about it,” Romo said to The Dallas Morning News. “Each season is a new football team. You’re going to write your own story each year with that football team.
“I’ve said it for a long time, if your team is good enough you’re going to get stops and you’re going to be able to move the ball and go score. You’re going to be a good team in December. And if it’s hard to get stops and it’s hard to score, it’s probably going to be a tough year.”
Romo and the Cowboys will once again be reminded of his career 11-15 record in December as they take on the Chicago Bears on Thursday night at Soldier Field.
But Romo isn’t entirely to blame, as the final month of the season has plagued the franchise for nearly two decades. The Morning News pointed out that since it last won a Super Bowl in 1995 Dallas is 29-44 in December. In 2013, Dallas began December with a 7-5 record and went 1-3 in the final four games to miss the postseason for the fourth consecutive year. They started the month with a crushing 45-28 loss at Chicago.
Dallas is coming off a poor Thanksgiving Day loss to Philadelphia that put them one game back of the division and clinging to the final NFC wild card spot with four games left, three of which are on the road.
But there are many signs that the Cowboys can put all the December talk to rest. Compared to last season, Dallas is one game better at 8-4, and Romo appears to be healthy. He’s completing 68.2 percent of his passes for 2,718 yards and 22 touchdowns to eight interceptions. Romo’s also getting the best season of running back DeMarco Murray’s career so far, with the 26-year-old totaling 1,427 yards and eight touchdowns through 12 games.
Receiver Dez Bryant is also on pace for a third-straight 1,000-yard season, and could set a new career-high in touchdown receptions. He’s totaled 67 catches for 952 yards and 10 scores already.
But offense hasn’t been a problem for Cowboys, as they rank eighth in the league in total offensive yards and ninth in points per game (25.2).
Instead Dallas needs a significant boost from a defense that fishtailed in the middle of the season after getting off to solid star. Even while dealing with several injuries at linebacker and along the defensive line, during their six-game winning streak from Weeks 2 to 7, the Cowboys surrendered 19.8 points and 348 yards. Now they’ve lost three of the last five games, allowing an average of 25.2 points and 392.4 yards.
Dallas will need the defense from six weeks ago if it hopes to contain a 5-7 Bears squad loaded with talent at the skill positions. Running back Matt Forte is first among all rushers with 78 receptions for 650 yards and three touchdowns, and has also gained 828 yards and five scores on the ground. And quarterback Jay Cutler, who does continued to struggle with 14 interceptions, is still eighth in the NFL with 24 touchdown passes, half of which belong to leading receiver Alshon Jeffery and tight end Martellus Bennett.
Chicago’s coming off a harrowing Thanksgiving loss of its own, a 34-17 drawback to NFC North rival Detroit. Like the Cowboys, the Bears defense was overrun by 474 offensive yards, now their three games back in the wild card race. But Chicago is starting the first of a three-game home stand, and can climb back into postseason hunt.
Dallas’s secondary will be thin against Chicago’s high-powered off with strong safety Jeff Heath (thumb) and defensive back Tyler Patmon (knee/ankle) listed as out, along with outside linebacker Dekoda Watson (hamstring). But there is an outside chance defensive tackle Josh Brent makes his season debut.
For the Bears, Jeffery is listed as questionable as he’s battle a hamstring injury the last few weeks but has played anyway. However starting kicker Robbie Gould (right quadriceps) has been ruled out and the team signed veteran Jay Feely, though Feely hasn’t played for any team all season.
Start Time: 8:25 P.M. ET
TV Channel: NFL Network
Point Spread: Dallas -4
Over/Under: 51.5 points
Prediction: Dallas over Chicago, 34-33