ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Charles Tillman had the ball thrown right into his hands. All the Chicago Bears cornerback had to do was grab it and run 25 yards untouched down the sideline for a touchdown.
Lance Briggs had to go three times farther and sidestep a few Dallas Cowboys on his way to the end zone.
The interception returns by Tillman and Briggs, who are among the five 30-something starters on Chicago's defense, came in a 34-18 win over the Cowboys on Monday night when Tony Romo matched his career high with five picks.
"I think Lance's was better. He juked a couple of people. His was longer, so by far I think he had the play of the game," Tillman said. "Mine was simple and boring. His was exciting."
Briggs' interception came in a wild two-play exchange of turnovers midway through the third quarter, and put the Bears up 24-7.
The first fumble of the season for Chicago (3-1) came when Jay Cutler was sacked by DeMarcus Ware to set Dallas up at the Bears 27. It was the third forced fumble already for Ware, the Pro Bowl linebacker who turned 30 during training camp.
On the very next play, Romo was trying to escape pressure when he was hit from behind by Henry Melton. The ball popped forward into the air to Briggs.
"Just outstanding play by our defense," Bears coach Lovie Smith said. "It seemed like everybody had a say in it. How about Lance Briggs? You guys didn't know he could run that fast."
Despite his fumble, Cutler was nearly flawless after halftime, completing 11 of 12 passes for 219 yards and two touchdowns. He was 18 of 24 overall for 275 yards. A 34-yard TD pass to Devin Hester started the half and there was later a 31-yarder to Brandon Marshall, who had seven catches for 138 yards.
The Cowboys (2-2) are a .500 team again, alternating wins and losses this season. Since the start of the 1997 season, Dallas is 122-122 in regular-season games with one playoff victory.
"This has to be a wakeup call for us. I don't say that nonchalantly. It has to be," said Jason Witten, the Cowboys' 10th-year tight end. "You can't bounce back and forth like this and try to compete come December-time. You can't do it. We have been in that situation before. You cannot do it. And we know that, and we'll get better."
Making things worse for the Cowboys, they now head into their bye week. And their next game is Oct. 14 at Baltimore, starting a stretch of playing four of five on the road.
"These next two weeks are going to be very long," running back DeMarco Murray said. "They're going to seem like forever."
Dallas owner Jerry Jones, however, called it a "timely bye" and a chance to reassess things for his team that opened the season by winning at the New York Giants. The defending Super Bowl champions are the next team to visit Cowboys Stadium, on Oct. 28.
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