The Bears rebounded from a sluggish start in hot and humid Miami Sunday. But they were unable to protect a 21-10 lead in an eventual 31-28 overtime loss to the Dolphins. Here are three things that stood out in the game:
(1) A Bears defense that ranked at or near the top of the NFL in several key categories struggled mightily for the first time this season.
A previously-stingy defense that had allowed an average of 294.5 yards in its first four games was gashed for 541 yards by the Dolphins. The unit uncharacteristically missed several tackles—most notably on receiver Albert Wilson's 43- and 75-yard touchdown receptions in the fourth quarter.
"I hope it's an aberration, but we'll discuss it and we make everybody accountable, we all do," said coach Matt Nagy. "For our team and our players, we like to pump them up and show them the good stuff, but we'll also show them the bad stuff, you know, why did this happen, and use it as motivation."
After Kyle Fuller registered interceptions on back-to-back possessions bridging the second and third quarters, the Bears permitted two TDs and three field goals on Miami's final seven possessions. "It was all on us," said outside linebacker Leonard Floyd. "We didn't execute at the high level that I know we can execute at. We're going to watch the film, be hard on each other, fix our [mistakes] and move on to the next team."
The Bears entered Week 6 leading the NFL in average sacks per game (4.5) but were blanked in that category for the first time since the 2016 season finale in Minnesota. On Sunday, they recorded only four hits on quarterback Brock Osweiler, who passed for a career-high 380 yards and three touchdowns.
(2) After being shut out in the first half for the first time this season, the Bears offense showed an explosive quick-strike ability in the third quarter.
Trailing 7-0 at halftime, the Bears generated touchdowns on their first three possessions of the second half to take a 21-10 lead. They scored on a pair of three-play, 75-yard drives in an elapsed 1:37 and 1:00, sandwiched around a 1-play, 12-yard possession that followed Fuller's second interception.
"It was just all 11 guys getting on the same page and having that hungry attitude that we can't go out there be stopped," said quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. "I feel like a lot of time in the first half we were stopping ourselves, they weren't stopping us. But you've got to give a lot of credit to that defense for playing how they did, which we do, got a lot of respect for them."
Nine of the 10 plays the Bears produced of 15-or-more yards in the game came in the second half or overtime. They included Trubisky passes of 54 yards to Taylor Gabriel and 50 yards to Tarik Cohen. Trubisky completed 13 of 17 passes for 227 yards with three TDs, one interception and a 133.0 passer rating in the second half and overtime. "They were in there at halftime and talking about, 'That's why we play four quarters and let's just keep staying aggressive,'" Nagy said. "And when you have that, they're trusting the system and they're trusting your calls and so you put them in position and we had some plays made."
(3) The Bears simply made too many mistakes on both sides of the ball.
After a 48-10 win over the Buccaneers Sept. 30 at Soldier Field, Nagy cautioned that blowouts are rare in the NFL and that teams have a very small margin for error. That was certainly the case Sunday in Miami as costly miscues on offense and defense led to the Bears' first loss in five weeks.
The offense committed two red-zone turnovers—a Jordan Howard fumble inside the 1 and a Trubisky interception in the end zone. The pick came one snap after Cohen's apparent 3-yard TD reception from Trubisky was nullified by a questionable offensive pass interference penalty on tight end Trey Burton.
In addition to the missed tackles and lack of a pass rush, the defense also allowed 161 yards rushing, with Frank Gore (101 yards on 15 carries) becoming only the second player to top 100 yards on the ground against the Bears in their last 23 games. "It all starts with stopping the run," said outside linebacker Khalil Mack. "I feel like we didn't do that great of a job with that."
Prime Photos: Bears vs. Dolphins 10.14.18
Bears photographer Jacob Funk selected his best photos from the Bears game against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium.