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Romo, Murray lead Cowboys over Bears, 41-28

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DeMarco Murray rushes for 179 yards and a touchdown in Thursday's 41-28 win over the Bears.TANNEN MAURY/EPA DeMarco Murray rushes for 179 yards and a touchdown in Thursday’s 41-28 win over the Bears.

CHICAGO (AP) — The Dallas Cowboys look like a team that’s ready for another first-place showdown.

DeMarco Murray ran for a season-high 179 yards and a touchdown, Tony Romo threw for three scores and the 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. 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 another meeting 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.

With that, the Cowboys improved to a league-best 6-0 on the road, where they have won seven straight since a blowout loss at Soldier Field on a bone-chilling night last December. Romo, who has been bothered by a bad back, kept checking down and completed 21 of 26 passes for 205 after struggling against the Eagles.

Murray, the league’s leading rusher, carried 32 times. He also had 49 yards receiving.

Dez Bryant had six receptions for 82 yards and Cole Beasley caught two touchdowns.

For the Bears, Marshall’s injury was another low in a disappointing season that will likely end with them missing the playoffs for the seventh time in eight years.

He was hurt taking a knee to the right side from the Cowboys’ Barry Church following a reception in the second quarter. That happened moments after he made a spectacular 42-yard catch, juggling the ball with his right hand, to help set up a touchdown. He stayed down for several minutes and gingerly walked off the field before heading to the locker room. TV cameras showed him leaving Soldier Field in an ambulance, and Marshall later posted on Twitter, “Thanks for the Prayers. .. I’m Good.”

Jay Cutler was 32 of 46 for 341 yards and two touchdowns, but the Bears had trouble sustaining any drives or stopping the Cowboys. They also did not get much from the run game, although they made a little more of an effort after managing just eight attempts in the loss at Detroit a week earlier.

Matt Forte had 13 carries for 26 yards after tying a career low with five rushes last week. Murray accounted for 105 yards during a busy half as Dallas, running for 65 and a touchdown and adding 40 receiving. Romo kept checking down and completed 17 of 21 passes for 123 yards, including a 13-yarder to Beasley in the closing seconds. That sent the Cowboys to the locker room with a 14-7 lead and they added to it in the third quarter.

Romo connected with a leaping Beasley for a 24-yard TD early in the quarter after Anthony Spencer stripped Forte near midfield following a screen pass, making it 21-7.

The Cowboys increased their lead to 21 minutes later when Romo found Gavin Escobar in the back of the end zone, a 43-yard catch by Bryant setting up that score. Joseph Randle added a 17-yard TD run late in the quarter to make it 35-7.

Cowboys defensive tackle Josh Brent played for the first time this season after serving a 10-game suspension for his intoxication manslaughter conviction. He hadn’t played since Dec. 2, 2012, six days before the drunken-driving crash that killed teammate Jerry Brown.

He was suspended the first 10 games and was inactive for two more. The Bears held out kicker Robbie Gould (right quadriceps) and defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff (knee). 

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