In a game dominated by the Chicago Bears defense, the visiting team from the north beat the home team, Miami Dolphins, 16-0.
Does a shutout against a third string quarterback, Tyler Thigpen, make it less of a big deal? Nope. It’s the first shuout by the Bears since Nov. 19, 2006 when they beat the New York Jets 10-0.
The Chicago Bears will take it, along with the opportunity to move back into first place in the NFC North. And with their 7-3 record, they’re a half game behind the Atlanta Falcons for the best record in the NFC.
For the first time this season, the Bears had six sacks. Three of them came in the fourth quarter. Bears defensive end Julius Pepper had three sacks for the game, followed by defensive tackle Israel Idonije, linebacker Brian Urlacher and defensive end Henry Melton each grabbing one. Cornerback Charles Tillman had an interception after Peppers deflected a pass; it set up a field goal.
In response to the Bear’s defense, Bears coach Lovie Smith was quoted as saying after the game, “We haven’t peaked yet.”
The Bears are also slowly improving their offense and Bears quarterback Jay Cutler seems to have a better grasp of the infamous Mike Martz offense. He is making better decisions, receiving more protection from his offensive line and not trying to be the hero on every play.
The team also brought back the running game with 40 carries for 135 yards.
One area that was noticeably improved in this was game was third down conversions: the Bears converted 10 of 18 third downs. The Dolphins, on the other hand, didn’t fare as well: they only converted one of 11 third downs.
For the day, Cutler completed 16 of 25 passes, 156 yards and one interception; he had a passer rating of 64.8.
Bears running back Matt Forte was in good form and scored the team’s sole touchdown of the game at the end of the third quarter with a two-yard run. This put the Bears ahead 16-0.
Forte had 97 yards on 25 carries for Thursday’s game.
Bears kicker Robbie Gould was the team’s leading scorer with three field goals, including a 50-yard goal in third quarter. Good to see him back after looking tepid the last few games.
Along with a new quarterback at the helm, Miami suffered another blow to its offense when wide receiver Brandon Marshall left the game before halftime with a hamstring injury.
Two milestones also came the Bears’ way with their victory. It was the Bears’ 700th win! It’s the first NFL first franchise to reach this number and not that Chicago needed it, but it’s a nice reminder that yes, it is a football town.
Another record was set from last night’s game: Urlacher now leads the team in all-time tackles with 1,488. He surpassed Mike Singletary by one tackle; Gary Fencik sits at third with 1,102 tackles. And slowly catching up is linebacker Lance Briggs in fourth place with 1,072 tackles.
The Bears’ win is its first one against a winning team since the Green Bay Packers in Week 3. Beating the Minnesota Vikings last week added some much-needed momentum as the Bears enter the difficult portion of their schedule.
Next week the Bears will host the Philadelphia Eagles, followed by difficult December games including the New England Patriots, Detroit Lions, the New York Jets and the Minnesota Vikings again.
The Bears will need their swagger to face these tough opponents. They’re back in the conversation for the playoffs and if the team is yet to peak as their coach believes, the best is yet to come.
Let’s hope so.
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Written by Debbie Baratz