Dolphins hand sloppy Bears first loss of seasonNov 5, 2006 - 9:35 PM CHICAGO (Ticker) -- Just like 1985, the Miami Dolphins ended the hopes of an unbeaten season for the Chicago Bears.
Taking advantage of six turnovers and the ineffective play of Rex Grossman, the Dolphins posted the biggest surprise of the NFL season, a 31-13 victory over the Bears.
Entering with just one win in their first seven games and facing a Bears team that had won its four games at Soldier Field by a combined 152-30, the Dolphins were given little chance to even be competitive.
But not only did the Dolphins (2-6) stay competitive, they took advantage of numerous mistakes by the Bears on their way to a shocking upset.
"We don't have a damn chance, huh?" said Dolphins defensive end Jason Taylor, who had a huge game. "A lot of people in the country and in this room did not give us a chance. It is nice to hear people admit that they were wrong."
"Chicago is a great team," Dolphins coach Nick Saban said. "We just wanted to come in here and earn some respect. We need to play 60 minutes and I think we did that today."
In their Super Bowl-winning season in 1985, the Bears (7-1) won their first 12 games before being ambushed in a 38-24 loss at Miami on a Monday night. Those Dolphins had Hall of Famers in coach Don Shula and Dan Marino.
The 1972 Dolphins are the only team to finish with a perfect season (17-0).
On Sunday, the 2006 Dolphins were led by Taylor, who returned an interception 20 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter. He also forced a fumble and recorded a sack to go over 100 in his career.
Miami turned the six Chicago turnovers into 28 points.
"The defense really stepped up with the turnovers," Saban said. "It was a big benefit for us to get the points off turnovers like we did".
The Dolphins completely flustered Grossman, who completed 18-of-42 passes for 210 yards and a touchdown with three interceptions. He had 11 TDs without an interception in his first four home games.
"We didn't take advantage of some opportunities, didn't play really well," Grossman said. "The Dolphins played extremely well so it's a combination of them playing really well and us not playing up to our capability. In this league everyone is good so if you make mistakes like that, bad things are going to happen."
Grossman also lost a key target early in the game when wide receiver Bernard Berrian left with a rib injury.
"It hurts anytime that a player of his ability is out of the game, but we're a team and that's no excuse for anything," Grossman said. "Obviously, he would have helped because he's a big-play guy. We missed him, but at the same time we've got other guys who can step up and make plays and that was the difference in the game, poor execution."
It marked the second time in three games the Bears committed six turnovers in a game. They had two defensive touchdowns and a special teams TD in rallying for a dramatic 24-23 victory at Arizona on October 16.
"There was no pressure in the beginning," said Bears defensive end Adewale Ogunleye, who played for the Dolphins from 2000-03. "We're taking it one game at a time. So after we won every game, we washed it out off our memories and we move on to the next one. That's what we're going to do with this loss."
This time, the Bears' defense was unable to bail them out. In fact, they were run over by Ronnie Brown, who rushed for a career-high 157 yards on 29 carries.
"I have to keep everything in perspective," Brown said. "It has nothing to do with my personal statistics. The main thing is that our team wants to win the ballgame. I could come into Soldier Field and gain 157 yards, but lose the ballgame and it doesn't feel as good as coming away with the win like we did today."
Joey Harrington threw for three touchdowns to overcome a pair of interceptions for the Dolphins.
"It wasn't what we saw that worked, but what we saw that didn't," Harrington said. "We were not going to let their defense beat us, we were going to make their offense drive the field to beat us."
Trailing 3-0, the Dolphins scored a pair of touchdowns in a in 15-second span of the second quarter off turnovers.
Rookie Devin Hester muffed a punt and the Dolphins recovered at the Bears 6. Two plays later, Harrington found Marty Booker open in the back of the end zone for a six-yard TD.
"It was a lack of focus. I took my eye off of the ball and muffed it," said Hester, who also had a lost fumble in the third quarter nullified by a penalty.
On the Bears' next play from scrimmage, Grossman rolled to his right and was picked off by Taylor, who dropped back into coverage. Taylor raced to the end zone for a 20-yard score and a 14-3 lead.
"Our football team didn't play well starting with the coaches and going all the way down," Bears coach Lovie Smith said. "Again, Rex was a part of that, but we had a lot things that went wrong today."
Tayor made another huge play on the Bears' next possession by sacking Grossman and forcing a fumble. Fellow defensive end Kevin Carter pounced on the ball at the Chicago 34.
The Dolphins moved to the Bears 5. But on 3rd-and-goal, Harrington was intercepted by leaping end Alex Brown.
Cashing in on the turnover, the Bears moved 86 yards in six plays on their best drive of the game. Grossman capped the march with a 30-yard TD to Muhsin Muhammed with 1:57 left in the half to pull the Bears within 14-10.
However, the half only temporarily halted the Bears from making another mistake.
On the first play of the third quarter, Grossman found Justin Gage with a slant over the middle. But Gage was stripped by strong safety Yeremiah Bell and cornerback Andre Goodman recovered the fumble and returned it 33 yards to the Chicago 12.
After two short runs by Brown, Harrington found Wes Welker wide open for a six-yard touchdown to make it 21-10 with 13:13 left in the third quarter.
The Bears reached the Dolphins 37 later in the third quarter before Grossman was intercepted by rookie safety Jason Allen.
Robbie Gould improved to 22-for-22 on the season with 38-yard field goal with 62 seconds left in the third quarter to pull the Bears within 21-13.
But on their first possession of the fourth quarter, Grossman was intercepted by Renaldo Hill, who returned the ball 12 yards to the Chicago 24.
On the next play, Harrington found Chris Chambers, who made a leaping catch in the end zone for a 28-13 advantage with 10 minutes left.
Olindo Mare kicked a 20-yard field goal with 69 seconds left to cap the scoring.
"We respect every team in the NFL," Bears running back Thomas Jones said. "We didn't take them for granted. We didn't look past them to the Giants (next week). They just came in and played a good game."
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