MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – After an uneventful first half, Sunday's game between the Bears and Dolphins in Miami turned into a seesaw thriller that featured wild swings of emotion.
Unfortunately for the Bears, the back-and-forth battle in hot and humid conditions culminated in their first loss in five weeks as Jason Sanders' 47-yard field goal as time expired in overtime gave the Dolphins a 31-28 win.
"It's exhausting," said coach Matt Nagy. "It's mentally draining for the guys because they tried hard. But someone's got to win and someone's got to lose, unless you have a tie. For our guys, they fought hard, and our coaches, our players pretty much gave everything that they had.
"I just told them at the end of the game in the locker room that we want to come out with the win. We didn't. But they stuck together and they fought until the end."
Trailing 7-0 after a sluggish first half, the Bears (3-2) scored three touchdowns in the first 8:10 of the third quarter to take a 21-10 lead. The Dolphins (4-2) fought back, however, tying the score 21-21 and later 28-28.
Miami was inches away from scoring a game-ending touchdown on its opening possession of overtime. But on third-and-goal from the 1, Akiem Hicks forced a Kenyan Drake fumble that Eddie Goldman recovered in the end zone.
The Bears marched to the Dolphins' 35, but Cody Parkey pushed a 53-yard field goal attempt wide right. Miami countered by moving 28 yards from its own 43 to the Bears' 29 to set up Sanders' game-winner.
Their first loss since the Sept. 9 season-opener to the Packers in Green Bay snapped the Bears' three-game winning streak.
It appeared that the Bears would win their fourth straight when Tarik Cohen caught an apparent 3-yard touchdown pass from Mitchell Trubisky that would have increased their lead to 28-13 early in the fourth quarter. But Trey Burton was penalized for offensive pass interference, nullifying the score.
On the next play, Trubisky's pass over the middle intended for tight end Ben Braunecker was intercepted by safety T.J. McDonald in the end zone.
The Dolphins capitalized on the turnover by marching 80 yards to tie the game 21-21 as receiver Albert Wilson turned a screen pass into a 43-yard touchdown and Brock Osweiler followed by hitting Kenny Stills with a two-point conversion pass with 9:08 remaining in the fourth quarter.
The Bears answered as Trubisky hit a wide-open Anthony Miller with a 29-yard TD pass to take a 28-21 lead with 3:17 to play. But on the very next play from scrimmage, Wilson turned another short pass into a 75-yard touchdown, tying the game 28-28 with 3:01 to go.
Plagued by missed tackles, the Bears defense uncharacteristically struggled Sunday. The unit allowed four touchdowns, gave up points on five of Miami's final seven possessions and generated little if any pressure on the quarterback.
After recording 18 sacks and yielding an average of 294.5 yards in their first five games, the Bears registered no sacks Sunday and permitted 541 yards.
"This wasn't Chicago Bears-style defense we're used to playing," said safety Eddie Jackson. "We knew it was going to be hot, we knew it was going to be a tough one. We made a lot of mistakes that we've got to come in and correct."
Osweiler, who started in place of the injured Ryan Tannehill, completed 28 of 44 passes for 380 yards and a 94.9 passer rating. Wilson caught six passes for 155 yards and two TDs. Gore rushed for 101 yards on 15 carries.
A lone bright spot on defense was provided by cornerback Kyle Fuller, who intercepted two passes, matching his total from all of last season in a 3:49 span bridging the second and third quarters.
Trailing 7-0, the Bears came within inches of tying the game with just over three minutes left in the first half. But on second-and-goal from the 2, Jordan Howard fumbled when he ran into Burton. Linebacker Kiko Alonso recovered the ball at the 1.
The Bears fared much better after halftime, scoring touchdowns on their first three possessions of the third quarter. Trubisky connected for TDs of 9 yards on a shovel pass to Burton and 12 yards on a strike to Allen Robinson II one play after Fuller had returned his second interception 35 yards to the Miami 12. Cohen followed with a 21-yard TD run that put the Bears ahead 21-10.
Trubisky completed 22 of 31 passes for 316 yards with three TDs, one interception and a 122.5 passer rating. He connected on a pair of passes deep down the left sideline to Taylor Gabriel for gains of 47 and 54 yards. The Bears quarterback also ran for 47 yards on eight carries.
Howard rushed for 69 yards on 14 carries, Cohen caught seven passes for 90 yards and Gabriel had five receptions for 110 yards.
But it wasn't enough for the Bears, who vowed to rebound next Sunday when they host the Patriots, much like they did after dropping their season opener in Green Bay.
"We can move on," said right guard Kyle Long. "We can learn from our mistakes. We can try to correct them next week, and we've got an opportunity to play in front of the best fans in football at Soldier Field next week."