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Cowboys Rout Struggling Bears

CHICAGO (AP) -- DeMarco Murray ran for a season-high 179 yards and a touchdown, Tony Romo threw for three scores and the Dallas Cowboys beat the Chicago Bears, 41-28, on Thursday night.

The Cowboys (9-4) made it look easy for most of the night against a struggling team that lost star receiver Brandon Marshall to a rib injury. Dallas clinched its first winning season since 2009, but is looking for more, with an NFC East title and first playoff appearance in five years in sight.

Bernstein: That wasn't bad enough

Led by Romo and Murray, Dallas rebounded from a blowout loss to the Eagles on Thanksgiving and pulled within a half-game of them with a showdown in Philadelphia next week.

The Cowboys took a 14-7 halftime lead and scored 21 unanswered in the third quarter before the Bears (5-8) rallied in the fourth.

The Bears (5-8) had been looking for their fourth consecutive victory over the Cowboys, including wins in each of the previous two seasons. They also played a night game at Soldier Field last December, with Matt Forte helping Chicago to a 45-28 victory on a brutally cold Monday.

The weather was just fine for this one, with a game-time temperature of 35 degrees.

Bears quarterback Jay Cutler was 5 for 7 for 22 yards in the first, and Forte was held to minus-2 yards rushing on four carries.

The prime-time matchup featured a pair of teams hoping to bounce back from an awful performance on Thanksgiving.

Dallas lost 33-10 to Philadelphia in an NFC East showdown, and it faces the division-leading Eagles again next Sunday in Philadelphia. The Cowboys had dropped three of five since a six-game win streak, with their only victories in the difficult stretch coming against the lowly Jaguars and Giants.

Cowboys defensive tackle Josh Brent played for the first time since his intoxication manslaughter conviction for his role in a December 2012 crash that killed teammate Jerry Brown. He was suspended for the first 10 games of the season, and then was inactive for the victory over New York and the home loss to the Eagles.

Chicago lost 34-17 at Detroit last Thursday, likely dashing any fleeting hope for an unlikely playoff berth. The Bears ran the ball just eight times for 13 yards against the Lions, with Forte matching a career low with five carries for 6 yards.

The Bears played without kicker Robbie Gould (right quadriceps) and defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff (knee), but receiver Alshon Jeffery (hamstring) and safety Chris Conte (eye) were available after being listed as questionable. Jay Feely, who signed with Chicago on Wednesday, handled the kicking duties.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.

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