ARLINGTON, Texas - Lance Briggs plucked the ball out of the air and rumbled 74 yards down the field. As the Chicago linebacker approached the end zone, he showed fans and a national television audience the ball.
Briggs, a former UA Wildcat, and the rest of those 30-something Bears defenders also showed Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys how much they can still play.
Charles Tillman, another of the five defensive starters in their 30s, also returned an interception for a touchdown in the Bears' 34-18 victory Monday night.
"A lot of our older guys are playing really well right now because we understand everything so much more," said Briggs, whose interception return for a TD was his first since 2005 and helped give the Bears a 24-7 lead in the third quarter. "Whether we've lost a step ... we make up for it in knowledge."
Though Romo was only sacked once, he was pressured relentlessly and threw five interceptions. That matched his career high, first done five years ago in his first full season as a starter.
"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."
Briggs' interception came in a wild two-play exchange of turnovers midway through the third quarter.
Chicago's first fumble of the season came when Cutler was sacked by DeMarcus Ware and Victor Butler recovered at the Bears 27. On the next play, Romo was hit from behind by Chicago's Henry Melton. The ball popped forward and Briggs grabbed it and scored to put the Bears (3-1) ahead 24-7.
"I haven't run that long in a long time, that far," said Briggs, who played at UA from 1999-2002.
Once again, the Cowboys (2-2) are a .500 team. They are also one of the lowest-scoring teams in the NFL with only 65 points going into their bye week. Since the start of the 1997 season, Dallas is 122-122 in regular-season games and won only one playoff game.
"This has to be a wake-up call for us. I don't say that nonchalantly. It has to be," Cowboys tight end Jason Witten said.
Bears quarterback Jay Cutler was nearly flawless after halftime, when he completed 11 of 12 passes for 219 yards and two TDs. That included a 34-yard score to Devin Hester to start the half and a 31-yarder to Brandon Marshall with 6:30 left.
Cutler was 18 of 24 overall for 275 yards. Marshall had seven catches for 138 yards.
Romo finished 31 of 43 for 307 yards and a touchdown.
Leukemia sidelines Colts coach Pagano
INDIANAPOLIS - It took Chuck Pagano less than nine months to instill his fighter's mentality and hopeful spirit in the Indianapolis Colts. He will need both to survive the biggest battle of his life - leukemia.
The Colts said their new coach has been hospitalized for cancer treatment, including chemotherapy, and probably would not return to full coaching duties this year. He will be replaced on an interim basis by offensive coordinator Bruce Arians.
"He will do fine," Arians said, his voice cracking as he recalled his own fight with prostate cancer in 2007. "I know him. He's a fighter."
Indy (1-2) hosts the Packers (2-2) on Sunday.
• Jets coach Rex Ryan did his best to defuse any talk about Tim Tebow replacing Mark Sanchez at quarterback, saying Monday: "Right now, I think Mark gives us our best opportunity to win."
• Titans QB Jake Locker has no structural damage to his left, non-throwing shoulder and will be day-to-day this week, the team said.