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Bears Game Day: Dominant defense keys 16-0 win

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The Bears' Matt Forte and teammates celebrate his fourth-quarter touchdown run. (Jose M. Osorio/Tribune)

By Fred Mitchell and Vaughn McClure

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- The Bears recycled their winning formula -- a combination of a stubborn defense and an efficient offensive attack -- to remain in control throughout a 16-0 victory over the injury-depleted Miami Dolphins on Thursday night at Sun Life Stadium.

With the victory, the Bears (7-3) became the first NFL franchise to win 700 regular-season games. They gained sole possession of first place in the NFC North and put the pressure on Green Bay (6-3) to keep pace with a win Sunday at Minnesota.

Quarterback Jay Cutler led a methodical offense that dominated time of possession (37:51 to 22:09), and Robbie Gould booted field goals of 46, 24 and 50 yards before Matt Forte rushed for a 2-yard touchdown late in the third period.

The Bears defense featured six sacks: three by Julius Peppers and one each by Israel Idonije, Henry Melton  and Brian Urlacher, as well as an interception by Charles Tillman. It was the Bears' first shutout since they blanked the New York Jets on Nov. 19, 2006.

"The story tonight of course was the defense," Bears coach Lovie Smith said. "Getting a shutout is just tough, no matter where you are, but especially on the road. Another team effort for us. ... We wanted to put the pressure on the second-place team behind us, and now we'll get ready for the next opponent."

Asked whether the nationally televised victory will earn the Bears respect, Smith said, "Seven wins. As far as respect, you get respect when you have seven wins. A lot of people had a chance to see us tonight. People's opinions don't really matter an awful lot. We'll take
the record right now. The team is confident."

The Dolphins had been shut out only once before at home, by the Jets in 2001. The Bears' offense did an efficient job of maintaining control of the ball.

"Our offensive line took over," Cutler said. "In the second half we ran the ball exceptionally well, and the way the defense was playing, we didn't have to do much.

"The defense has been playing like this for 10 straight games, so that's nothing new to us. We're the ones offensively who are trying to catch up with them. If we can get to their level, we're going to be a very good team in December."

Already missing their top two quarterbacks, the Dolphins saw backup center Cory Proctor
go down with a leg injury early in the first period. He was filling in for injured starter Joe Berger. They later lost receiver Brandon Marshall to a hamstring injury.

Forte's two-yard touchdown run boosted the Bears to a 16-0 lead at the 2:01 mark of the third
quarter, capping a 13-play, 60-yard drive that ate up 7 minutes, 26 seconds.

The Bears' defense was dominant all night led by Peppers, who picked up his third sack of the night midway through the fourth quarter. The Dolphins were only 1-for-10 on third downs.

Gould had put the Bears ahead 9-0 with a 50-yard field goal -- his third of the night -- at the 11:53 mark of the third. That Bears' drive covered 38 yards in seven plays.

Gould put the Bears on the board first with a 47-yard field goal at the 3:53 mark of the first quarter. Cutler fumbled after being hit by Cameron Wake on the previous play, but Bears tackle Chris Williams recovered.

About a minute later, Tillman intercepted a Tyler Thigpen pass intended for Marshall. The pass was tipped at the line by Peppers, and Tillman's third pick of the season set the Bears up at the Miami 46.

Cutler picked up a first down by running for 16 yards on third down. But the drive stalled at the Miami 6 before Gould booted a 24-yard field goal and a 6-0 lead early in the second period.

Thigpen hit Marshall on a 14-yard pass play during the Dolphins' next possession. After being tackled along the Bears sideline, Marshall tossed the football toward the face of Cutler. Marshall drew a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for the antic.

Cutler threw his 10th interception of the season when Bennie Sapp picked off an underthrown pass intended for Johnny Knox at the Miami 33 with 1:46 left in the half. With 1:25 to go, Marshall had to be helped off the field with a hamstring injury. His return was questionable.

An apparent interception by Lance Briggs was reversed to an incomplete pass by Thigpen, forcing a punt.

The Bears dominated the stats in the first half, yet clung to a mere 6-0 lead.

The Bears accumulated 154 total yards in the first half, compared to Miami's 93. And the Bears dominated the time of possession: 19 minutes, 11 seconds compared to 10:49 for the Dolphins.

Earlier this week, Urlacher ran out of superlatives to describe the play of Tinoisamoa through the Bears' first nine games.

"He's played his ass off," Urlacher said. "Against the Vikings, he had nine  tackles in 29 plays. He plays hard as hell. He doesn't take any plays off. He always sprints to the football. He's physical. He does everything right."

With Tinoisamoa out, Nick Roach started in his place. The two battled for the starting spot during training camp and a healthy Tinoisamoa won the spot. But Roach, who has done most of his work on special teams this season, still has some experience. He made his 25th career start.

It remains unclear exactly when Tinoisomoa's knee became an issue, but Bears general manager Jerry Angelo indicated before Thursday's game that the injury wasn't serious.

Thursday also marked the return of cornerback Zack Bowman. He lost his starting job to Tim Jennings, then was sidelined for three games with a foot sprain.

The rest of the inactives for the Bears were tight end Desmond Clark, running back Kahlil Bell,
offensive lineman Edwin Williams, safety Craig Steltz, defensive ends Corey Wooton and Barry Turner and cornerback Joshua Moore. Caleb Hanie was the third quarterback.

11 Comments

I agree with Chuck. The Bears haven't even won every game this year, only 7 out of 10. They haven't even beaten all 3 winning teams they played this year, they only beat 2 out of 3. They should probably be in last place.


sside on November 19, 2010 11:15 AM

Yeah, stopping Miami and their 3rd string QB sure scared all the teams into wanting to avoid the Bears, keep dreaming Bozo.

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Oh sorry, did we or did we not shut down AP last week? Held one of the league's top rushers to a season-low 51 yards and 3yrds per carry. Keep on hatin, Bears keep winning.
................

Oh yeah, you're right, the Vikings have been dominant this year, the Bears sure separated themselves with that game.
8-8 for the Bears this year and that's only because Detroit lost it's QB.

Yeah, stopping Miami and their 3rd string QB sure scared all the teams into wanting to avoid the Bears, keep dreaming Bozo.

___________

Oh sorry, did we or did we not shut down AP last week? Held one of the league's top rushers to a season-low 51 yards and 3yrds per carry. Keep on hatin, Bears keep winning.

sside on November 19, 2010 10:12 AM

7-3. Talk about how much the Bears suck all you want. Nobody in the NFL wants to play Chicago right now.
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Yeah, stopping Miami and their 3rd string QB sure scared all the teams into wanting to avoid the Bears, keep dreaming Bozo.

7-3. Talk about how much the Bears suck all you want. Nobody in the NFL wants to play Chicago right now. The defense is too good. Offense is struggling, but just remember that defense wins championships. 2-3 more wins and we're going to the playoffs. Lets go Vikings.

"That game was just disgusting...and hardly indicative of the type of football the NFL should be showcasing on their beloved NFL Network night."



__________________________________
Have you watched the NFL?? 9 out of every 10 games are between two crappy to mediocre teams. The NFL showcases crap because most of their product is crap.

Philtration on November 19, 2010 8:22 AM

Thursday Night Football says:

I don't think the NFL could have asked for a less exciting matchup as was shown tonight. The Dolphins completely go away from their bread and butter by letting their THIRD STRING QUARTERBACK drop back to pass almost 40 times, yet hand the ball off only 7 times.
===========================================================

No.
The Bears defense shut down Miami's running game and they had to throw the ball at that point.
The Bears run defense is probably the best in the NFL this year so why overlook that?

This is not a perfect team but why dump on the things that they do very well? (defense & special teams)

Lets face it. if the Fins had 6 or 7 of the guys not playing on the O side of the ball, we lose last night. But we'll take charity.

The Bears posted a shutout, and people still find a way to complain and nitpick.

I bet the same people were naysaying the Blackhawks right after they won the Stanley Cup.

I love how all the doubters whine and cry, "Who have they beaten???? When will they beat a real good team???"

Well the Browns beat New England and New Orleans and where are they going this season? Oh right, nowhere.

7-3. Suck on it haters and Pack fans.

Miami must have dropped 5 Cutler passes tonight that hit them right in the chest, no team can win when they drop the easy ones like they did.

Cutler looked really bad again tonight,unfortunately this team wont go far with him playing.

And the Bears will lose all but one game the rest of the season and they will really really be crying.

mitchi_okole on November 18, 2010 10:57 PM

Naysayers LOSS u'self .... go take basket waeving (spelling bee a-mucks get all over this) as u'r sport.

we shut them out .... deal with it.

*Sigh* Yet another meaningless win against yet another subpar opponent. When will this team beat someone? They might as well just lose. We all know they're the worst team in the NFL. Why won't they just show us that already and let me sleep at night?

mitchi_okole on November 18, 2010 10:47 PM

NOBODY wants TO plat da Bears .... NOBODY.

Thursday Night Football on November 18, 2010 10:38 PM

I don't think the NFL could have asked for a less exciting matchup as was shown tonight. The Dolphins completely go away from their bread and butter by letting their THIRD STRING QUARTERBACK drop back to pass almost 40 times, yet hand the ball off only 7 times.

The Bears should leave a fruit basket in Tony Sporano's office for allowing them to walk into Miami and basically get the game handed to them on a silver platter.

That game was just disgusting...and hardly indicative of the type of football the NFL should be showcasing on their beloved NFL Network night.

Put that game in the noon slot on Sunday and give me Brett Favre vs. the Packers. Just sickening.

Chitownblues on November 18, 2010 10:33 PM

Bear Fans will not learn, the whole Miami o line was hurt and a 3rd string QB, lets see how this team does the rest of the year. They have beat two teams with winning records. GB,Miami, oh and GB was driving to win the game when they fumbled.

GO BEARS!!!!!

Never thought I would say this in the 2010-2011 season but Chicago....we have a real football team on our hands. Not sure how good they are yet, and yes it's against a 3rd string QB, but still. Impressive job tonight. Everyone say it together.... "DAAAAAH BEARZ"

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