LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) - After playing half a game of solid football for the third straight week, the Chicago Bears are searching for a way to play the full 60 minutes.
Doing it with a lineup that fluctuates almost daily because of injuries is the tricky part for Chicago after its second straight 0-3 start.
"Really, in all three phases, I think there's been some positives," coach John Fox said. "I don't think we've put a complete game together by any stretch. I think that's evident. Whether it's the run game, the run defense, the pass game, the pass defense, obviously none of it's been good enough."
No 0-3 team has made the playoffs since 1998, and the Bears are talking more about improvement than becoming a playoff team as they prepare to host Detroit on Sunday.
Playing against Dallas without quarterback Jay Cutler (thumb sprain), the Bears started veteran Brian Hoyer and fell behind 24-3 by halftime. They outscored Dallas in the second half of a 31-17 defeat.
It was the second straight lopsided loss in a prime-time game for the Bears, who fell Sept. 19 to Philadelphia 29-14.
"You can't continue to not play well and, for lack of a better word, be embarrassed on national TV," tight end Zach Miller said. "But I felt like coming out in the second half, it's there. Everybody played hard and continued to fight until the whistle blew."
Injuries have been factors in the inconsistent play, and not just Cutler's. A patchwork offensive line and now a nicked-up running backs corps have made the running game spotty.
"Everybody has to elevate their play and be better for the entire team," Miller said. "That's professional football and how it goes."
Third running back Jordan Howard took over after an ankle injury to starter Jeremy Langford and gained 45 yards on nine carries, but that highlighted the ground attack. Fox wouldn't commit to Howard for Sunday's game at Soldier Field, but might not have much choice with second running back Ka'Deem Carey plagued by a hamstring.
The Bears on Sunday had to activate Raheem Mostert after signing him to the practice squad last week. Fox acknowledged Mostert isn't exactly "a household name here in Chicago."
The injury problem has been more apparent on defense.
Safety Harold Jones-Quartey suffered a concussion Sunday and is in the concussion protocol. Safety Adrian Amos had just returned from a concussion for the game with Dallas.
Linebacker Danny Trevathan (thumb), nose tackle Eddie Goldman (ankle) and cornerback Kyle Fuller (knee) remain out. Fuller hasn't played since August.
"We've got a couple five-star guys down," linebacker Jerrell Freeman said. "But guys have to come in, step up.
"I kind of take it personal when the young guys come in and they mess up or something and I'm out there. I've got to take that personal. I feel like that's on me, too. Getting those guys ready, getting them comfortable, I've got to take responsibility."
While the defense struggled against the run, it also had problems stopping two straight rookie quarterbacks in Philadelphia's Carson Wentz and Dallas' Dak Prescott.
The defense also gave up 199 rushing yards to Dallas.
"Teams have been doing a really good job with the young quarterbacks and simplifying the game plans for them, the last two weeks for us, in particular, getting the ball out fairly quick," linebacker Willie Young said. "In some situations we need to get the rush working with the coverage, and vice-versa.
"When you look at it, they (the Cowboys) rushed for 200 yards. We have to control the running game first before we can have fun in the backfield."
NOTES: The Bears signed offensive lineman Colin Kelly to the practice squad Monday and terminated the practice squad contract of Jason Weaver. Kelly was with Kansas City in 2013-14 and San Francisco in 2016 without seeing action in the regular season.