CHICAGO -- The laughing hadn't yet begun at Soldier Field. The Bears' far-too-easy 45-28 icing of the Cowboys was still in progress in the final minutes of the first half and the result far from determined.
Yes, the Bears led 17-14 and had scored on their first three possessions. But they also sensed they needed more. Check that, they wanted more.
So in the final minute before halftime, quarterback Josh McCown and his merry band of playmakers went about hammering the Cowboys into submission.
McCown to running back Matt Forte for 9 yards. Timeout, 31 seconds left.
McCown to Alshon Jeffery for 7. Timeout, 0:25 left.
McCown to Brandon Marshall for 19. Timeout.
With 17 seconds left at the Dallas 25, the Bears would have been content padding their lead with a Robbie Gould field goal. But they had time to deliver a statement.
And that came with Jeffery darting up the sideline and into the back corner of the end zone and McCown taking a shot with a high-arcing deep ball.
It could have been intercepted by cornerback B.W. Webb. It probably should have been incomplete. Instead, Jeffery went up, comic-book style, clasped both of his strong hands onto the ball and landed with both feet just inbounds.
Coach Marc Trestman described the play simply.
"Alshon went up and made a play," Trestman said. "And Josh at least gave him a ball that he could play inbounds."
Fellow receiver Earl Bennett came away more impressed.
"Crazy, man," Bennett said. "Crazy. Alshon just continues to make great catches each and every week. Last week (against the Vikings), I was like, 'Man, that was probably one of the best catches I've ever seen.' This week I was like, 'Man, that was probably one of the best catches I've seen.' The guy is balling."
Jeffery's touchdown marked the second time in as many drives he had made a circus catch amid tight coverage. And it was further evidence that Jeffery and mentor Brandon Marshall might be the most lethal receiving tandem in the NFL right now.
Jeffery's acrobatic catches attracted the highlight reel. Marshall posted a game-high 100 yards, his sixth 100-yard outing this season.
Marshall also joined Jeffery in the 1,000-yard club, the first Bears duo to accomplish that feat in 18 seasons. Jeffery has 1,193 yards, Marshall 1,090.
The two receivers are big, strong and athletic. Best of all, they complement one another perfectly.
Marshall was asked what the Bears were hoping to get out of their final offensive play of the first half.
"A touchdown," he said. "We got a touchdown. We didn't know it was going to be so sweet. I just embraced him, hugged him and said, 'Man, you're awesome.' "
Marshall also expressed great pride in Jeffery's continued development.
"I can't explain it," Marshall said. "We all knew what he was capable of doing. I'm just thankful that I had the healthy environment to put him in to help him grow and really learn about the physical and mental (aspects of football). He's helping us out big time."
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