If you watched the Miami Dolphins-Green Bay Packers game on October 12, you knew the Bears would be challenged yesterday. With a couple minutes left to play, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers were down by 4 points and they had 60 yards to go for a score. On the Miami 47-yard line with a 1:44 remaining, Rodgers was sacked and fumbled. Luckily for the Packers, offensive tackle T. J. Lang recovered the ball to give Green Bay an extra opportunity. Rodgers prevailed and 6 completions later, the Packers regained the lead with just 6 seconds remaining. Game over. Packers won, 27-24.
On September 28, in Soldier Field, the Packers dominated the Bears in the second half and won easily, 38-17. And although the Bears played tough on October 12 to beat the Atlanta Falcons, 27-13, it was apparent that the Bears could have a tough game on their hands against Miami.
On the Bears first possession, Cutler tossed two short passes to Alshon Jefferey and the Bears had a third and one. Rather than attempt a short run, the Bears tried to fool the Dolphins with a long pass to Jefferey, but it failed and they had to punt. It is easy enough to suggest that the Bears should have run for the first, but if you have watched the Bears play this season, often it seems like the opposition has the Bears playbook and know the game plan--they seem to know exactly what the Bears are going to do. I can't blame the Bears for the long pass attempt.
Ryan Tannehill had 49 yards rushing against the Packers and he must have seen the same opportunity against the Bears because he was running again. On Miami's second possession, Tannehill's 14- yard run ignited an 81-yard touchdown drive. The Dolphins were up 7-0.
Whatever defense the Dolphins were throwing at the Bears, initially they were covering the wide receivers well and Cutler was going heavily to Matt Forte on short passes. But when Cutler fumbled (recovered by the Bears) and a few plays later he was sacked, it was time to punt the ball back to the Dolphins. When the Dolphins had the ball, they moved it close enough for a long field goal attempt, but they missed--two Jay Ratliff sacks helped the Bears cause during that drive.
On the next Bears possession, Cutler was sacked and then he tossed an interception to Reshad Jones who ran through the Bears offense that was in disarray. When Brandon Marshall responded amidst of falling Bears players to catch Jones and make the tackle after a 50 yard scamper, it was really a fine moment in the midst of misery. Marshall showed something of the old time Bears in that play. Trestman might show that clip about a hundred times this week.
Tannehill only had 23 yards to go for a touchdown and that's what he did with a couple passes. It was Dolphins 14-0 with less than 6 minutes in the half. The Bears went three and out, which was followed by a stalled Dolphins drive just before half.
On the Bears first possession of the second half, Cutler featured hand offs to Forte and passes to Marshall to move the ball to the 10 yard line. He tossed a TD pass to Forte from there and after the extra point, the Dolphins' lead was cut, 14-7. On the drive, the Bears had used up 7 minutes.
On the Dolphins' possession, Tannehill himself had a 30 yard run in the midst of several Lamar Miller runs and receptions that gave the Dolphins another touchdown. As the fourth quarter was about to start, the Dolphins had a 21-7 lead. Both teams essentially had just one possession for the entire quarter.
At that point, the Bears could still come back, but Cutler had taken a beating and Forte was paying dearly for every yard. The Dolphins were doing a good job defensing Marshall with some exceptions, but you have to wonder who was going to step up for the Bears.
A Culver sack and fumble gave the ball back to the Dolphins on the Bears 16 yard line. Tannehill had another short drive for a touchdown, but the Bears defense held. The Dolphins settled for a field goal and the score was 24-7.
Two plays from scrimmage later, Cutler hit Dante Rosario who fumbled the ball back to the Dolphins who took over at the Bears 35-yard line. The Bears defense held again and the Dolphins tried a 37-yard field goal that failed.
On the Bears next drive, a 24-yard pass play to Forte and pass interference call on a pass to Jefferey helped move the ball down the field to the 5-yard line. On three runs, Forte ramrodded the ball in for the score. The score was 24-14, but there was only 7:31 left on the clock and the Dolphins had the ball.
Tannehill was able to execute a slow drive that ate up over 5 minutes and a Bears timeout. With 2:16 remaining, Miami kicked a field goal and took a 27-14 lead. Chris Williams of the Bears was able to return the Dolphins kick 50 yards into good field position for the Bears possession, but the Bears drive stalled at the 15 yard line. The Dolphins won, 27-14.
At this point in the season, the Bears are demonstrating some talent, but they are not playing as well as several other teams. After the game, Bear players found it difficult to describe what they need to do to improve other than suggest that they need to play more consistently. It was another tough, yet uninspiring loss that seemed to suggest that the Bears are talented, but have not played up to their potential.
The Dolphins pass coverage at once inhibited the Bears' passing game and their pressure forced some errors on the part of Cutlet and his receivers.
Sporting Chance Press is the publisher of Pillars of the NFL: Coaches Who Have Won Three or More Games.