The Chicago Bears came into Sunday's game against the Miami Dolphins looking to win for the first time at home this season, but those plans went up in smoke as they dropped a lackluster 27-14 decision on the lakefront.
The game got off to a rousing start for both defenses, as two straight three-and-out drives opened the game. Jeremiah Ratliff got the festivities started by sacking Ryan Tannehill on the first play from scrimmage, and Jared Allen grabbed Lamar Miller on second down for a minimal gain. After the Dolphins punted, the Bears threw two straight screen passes, and then on 3rd-and-1 Jay Cutler’s pass to Alshon Jeffery fell incomplete, forcing the Bears to punt.
On the next Miami drive, the Bears’ defense began to yield some yards, and the Dolphins marched down the field to score. Charles Clay snared a deep completion for a key first down, and he ultimately caught the touchdown pass from Tannehill, as Kyle Fuller ran a zone coverage pattern while the rest of the Bears were in zone. Shea McClellin also slipped on the exchange, leaving Clay wide open and the Dolphins with a 7-0 lead with about seven minutes left in the first quarter.
The Bears’ offense made a couple of good plays to start their drive, but ultimately it stalled out thanks to a Cutler sack on third down, and they had to punt again. The Dolphins again moved the ball well to end the first quarter, with Daniel Thomas getting a couple of nice gains.
The Dolphins’ solid run up the field ended up stalling out in Bears territory, with Ratliff picking up his third sack of the game after he read a run play perfectly and got around the edge to stop Tannehill. The Bears also dodged a bullet as the Dolphins missed a field goal, and Chicago got the ball back still down seven points.
Cutler and the Bears began passing the ball down the field to start out their drive, including a nice post pattern to Martellus Bennett underneath the safeties for a first down. On third down, Cutler attempted to throw the ball downfield, but he ended up finding Rashad Jones instead. After a poor tackle attempt by Jeffery, Jones made it all the way down to within the Bears’ 30-yard line to set the Dolphins up. Tannehill then found Mike Wallace in the back of the end zone for a score, and Miami seized a 14-0 lead with about five minutes left.
After nearly throwing another interception, Cutler and the Bears were sent off the field with another unsuccessful drive. Tannehill was able to move the Dolphins a bit, but ended up getting sacked by Ratliff and Jared Allen to finish off the drive. The Bears opted not to call a timeout and allowed the Dolphins to run out the clock on the half.
As the Bears got going in the second half, they finally seemed to remember that Matt Forte was on the team, giving him eight touches on the drive. His first was a 16 yard run, and later on he converted on a fourth down play to extend the drive. Finally, Cutler tossed a nice screen pass to Forte off of a delayed release, and Forte waltzed into the end zone to make it a 14-7 game.
The Dolphins responded to the length drive with one of their own, marching down the field and scoring again to extend their lead back to 14. Tannehill had the biggest play of the drive when he rushed for 30 yards on a 4th-and-1 play in Bears territory. Two plays later, the Dolphins scored on a Miller sweep to the left side, and they took a 21-7 lead with about 30 seconds remaining in the quarter.
Marshall ended the third quarter with a first down catch, but things quickly went south for the Bears. In a one-on-one matchup with Jordan Mills, Cameron Wake got into the backfield and sacked Cutler, forcing a fumble in the process. The Dolphins ended up recovering, but they were stopped by the Bears’ defense and had to settle for a field goal to make it 24-7.
The Bears turned the ball over again on their next drive, with Dante Rosario doing the honors as Cortland Finnegan punched it loose with his helmet. Miller got several good runs on the drive to help milk the clock for Miami, but a field goal attempt was blocked by Lamarr Houston as the Bears remained down 17 points.
After a good Forte run and a pass interference call on the Dolphins, the Bears were able to cash in to make it a two-possession game. On a third-and-goal play from the one-yard line, Forte punched the ball in between the tackle and guard on the right side of the line, and with seven and a half minutes to go, the Bears trailed 24-14.
The Dolphins did a nice job of moving the ball down the field on their next drive, with Miller leading the way with a couple more solid rushes. He got into the end zone toward the end of the possession, but a holding call on Clay wiped it out. The Dolphins ended up having to settle for a field goal with just over two minutes remaining in the game, giving themselves a 13 point lead.
Chris Williams got the Bears some great field position by returning the ensuing kick-off to the 45-yard line, and despite some early struggles, Forte snared a first down catch to convert on fourth down. After that play however, things were stopped up again, as several passes to Marshall and Bennett fell incomplete. The last play of the game for the Bears saw Marshall lose on a jump ball against Finnegan, turning the ball back over to the Dolphins and ending the contest.
The Bears will look to show their road-warrior skills next Sunday when they take on the New England Patriots in Foxboro. The game will be their final one before their Week 9 bye.