As a rule, the Bears' defensive scheme may be the most predictable in the NFL. But coordinator Rod Marinelli and the boys stepped out of character a bit Monday.
They blitzed on nearly 23 percent of Tony Romo's dropbacks, mostly in the first half. It was the most the Bears have blitzed in any game.
On Charles Tillman's interception for a touchdown in the second quarter, Romo was throwing "hot" to wide receiver Dez Bryant because the Bears were sending six pass rushers, with Chris Conte and Lance Briggs being the extras.
Conte was unblocked and forced a quick throw. Bryant apparently misread the defense and Tillman had an easy interception, the first of the Bears' five.
Briggs was the most frequent blitzer, as he came after the quarterback five times. The Bears never got a sack on a blitz, but they did force quick throws that led to short completions.
Sixty percent of the blitzes came in nickel situations.
Marinelli had another wrinkle for the Cowboys too. The Bears lined up in a 3-4 defense twice, with Shea McClellin playing stand-up linebacker. Both times, he dropped and covered running back DeMarco Murray.
Here is what else a review of the tape showed.
Grading key: Grades are between 0 and 10 with 0 being complete failure and 10 being perfect.
Defensive lineGrade: 6
The Bears' down linemen did pretty well, but they did not dominate against an overmatched offensive line.
The Cowboys neutralized Julius Peppers effectively, but they had no answer for Henry Melton. With his quick first step and ability to redirect, Melton abused right guard Mackenzy Bernadeau.
Melton probably would not have had his sack if Corey Wootton did not get a good rush from left end on the play. As a result, Romo had nowhere to go. Wootton and McClellin both had moments as pass rushers.
Briggs might have made another Pro Bowl based on what he did in front of a national television audience Monday. The interception was a highlight play and his speed was amazing, but he made a lot of other plays as well, both against the run and pass. He also forced a fumble, made a tackle for a loss and had a QB pressure.
Major Wright looks like a different player lately. He is reading well, taking good angles and making plays. Neither of his interceptions was spectacular, but he did what he was supposed to do.
Conte is playing fast, breaking well and looking aggressive.
Old pro Tillman played it perfectly to come up with his pick-six, knowing exactly where Romo was trying to go with the ball.
Tillman flipped sides to follow Bryant. Even though Bryant had a career-high 105 receiving yards, Tillman frequently frustrated him.
D.J. Moore gave up a lot of catches underneath in zone, but it really didn't hurt the Bears. He also came up with an interception to make up for it.
Offensive lineGrade: 6
On one hand, keeping DeMarcus Ware at bay was pretty impressive. On the other hand, this wasn't the challenge it could have been.
The Bears were playing against a front seven that was missing four starters. And the Cowboys' use of Ware was puzzling.
Not counting screens, rollouts, play-action fakes or three-step drops with quick throws, Jay Cutler had 17 dropbacks. Ware either dropped into coverage or lined up on the other side of the formation on five of those plays, so he had only 12 prime sack opportunities.
On those plays, Webb had help from a back or tight end six times, and he was alone six times. Of the times Webb was alone, Ware had one sack — which was Cutler's fault because he held the ball for 3.8 seconds — and one pressure.
Ware forced another sack in the fourth quarter on a play-action fake. He flew past Webb and forced Cutler to step up into Josh Brent.
Basically, Webb did pretty well.
The linemen all had ups and downs. One of the protection highlights was no Cowboy pressuring Cutler on a seven-man rush on the 31-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Marshall.
Cutler showed outstanding decision-making and arm strength, and most of his throws were absolute lasers.
He had five attempts of 20 yards or more, and he completed three of them.
Cutler completed 75 percent of his throws and averaged 11.4 yards per attempt. No other quarterback in the NFL this year has started a game and done that. Last year, there were only three games in which starting quarterbacks (Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Schaub and Tarvaris Jackson) had equal or better completion percentages and yards per attempt.
Tight endsGrade: 7.5
After Kellen Davis dropped the first pass to him, he redeemed himself with his best day as a pro. His best plays were the catch for 25 yards that he grabbed out of the hands of Danny McCray, and the pick he set on Cowboys corner Brandon Carr on Marshall's 31-yard touchdown.
Wide receiversGrade: 8
Marshall caught all but one of the eight passes thrown his way. The Bears moved him around a lot and he got open, and then made yards after the catch, including 19 yards on a 25-yard reception and 11 yards on an 18-yard reception.
Devin Hester had four passes thrown to him but played only eight snaps on offense. That's interesting considering Dane Sanzenbacher played 17 snaps in the absence of Earl Bennett.
Hester's highlight was the stop-and-go move he put on first-round pick Maurice Claiborne that resulted in about 5 yards of separation, a touchdown and Claiborne's jock sitting in the middle of the field.
Running backsGrade: 5
Matt Forte ran well but played only 55 percent of the snaps and had only 14 touches. Michael Bush was considerably less effective, in part because the offensive line struggled to open up space between the tackles.
Special teamsGrade: 5
Special teams didn't do anything unusual, but they held the Cowboys in check. Hester had only three return chances and couldn't do much with them.