Cowboys, Bears tied at 7 after 1st quarter

Associated Press
Chicago Bears wide receiver Earl Bennett (80) celebrates after making a touchdown reception during the first half of an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys, Monday, Dec. 9, 2013, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
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CHICAGO (AP) — Josh McCown threw for two touchdowns and ran for another as the Chicago Bears took a 24-14 lead over the Dallas Cowboys at halftime of a Monday night game between NFC teams trying to tie for the lead in their divisions.

Wind chill temperatures below zero and two struggling defenses did little to slow the offenses at Soldier Field. The frigid conditions didn't stop the halftime ceremony where the Bears retired the No. 89 of Hall of Famer Mike Ditka, who won a championship with Chicago as a player and coach.

McCown threw a 25-yard pass to wide receiver Alshon Jeffery over two defenders for a touchdown with 10 seconds left in the half to finish a 37-second, five-play scoring drive.

The Bears scored on all four first-half possessions against the league's worst-ranked pass defense.

Robbie Gould kicked a 27-yard field goal with 3:49 left in the second quarter to break a 14-14 tie and end a 68-yard drive. The Bears forced a punt to set up the quick 60-yard march to the late TD.

Dallas' Tony Romo had threw his second touchdown pass of the half, a game-tying 10-yard toss off a bootleg to tight end Jason Witten with 5:22 left in the second quarter that tied the score at 14.

However, most of Dallas' big first-half plays came from running back DeMarco Murray, who had 99 yards on 13 carries against the league's worst-ranked run defense.

McCown scored from 7 yards out on third down to give the Bears a 14-7 lead in the second quarter, leaping into the end zone and colliding with Dallas linebacker Sean Lee before spinning to the ground to end a 65-yard, 10-play march.

Murray rushed for 66 yards on eight carries in the first quarter and McCown was 5-of-6 passing for 51 yards.

The Cowboys went 75 yards on the game's opening drive with Romo completing a 2-yard touchdown pass to Dez Bryant on second-and-goal to end the 12-play march. The first 37 yards of the drive came on the ground against Chicago's 32nd-ranked run defense, including a drive-opening 19-yard run off right tackle by Murray. He had 52 yards on six carries during the drive.

Romo completed a third-and-3 pass of 11 yards to Cole Beasley at the Bears 14 to keep the drive alive.

The Bears answered with a 78-yard drive in 12 plays, ending with a 4-yard, third-down McCown-to-Earl Bennett TD pass with 1:35 remaining. A third-and-10 pass of 15 yards to Jeffery kept the drive going.

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