While quarterback Justin Fields had a record-breaking day as the Bears offense continued to ascend, the defense once again struggled throughout a 35-32 loss to the Dolphins Sunday at Soldier Field.
With 178 rushing yards, Fields broke the record for most rushing yards by a quarterback in a regular-season game in NFL history held by Michael Vick, who ran for 173 yards Dec. 1, 2002 against the Vikings. He also broke the record for the longest TD run by a quarterback in Bears history on a 61-yard score in the third quarter.
The second-year pro earned a 106.7 QB rating after completing 17 of 28 pass attempts for 123 yards and three passing touchdowns, helping him account for all but 67 of the Bears' 368 total yards of offense.
"It felt good," Fields said of his performance. "Credit to God, of course. Without him, I wouldn't be here. I felt like we played well today as an offense. O-Line blocked great, receivers did what they needed to do in the passing game, downfield blocking, so I think everybody did their part today."
The Bears nearly came back from three double-digit deficits as back-to-back defensive stops late in the game gave the offense a chance to take the lead twice. Facing third-and-10 on the Bears' final possession, Fields threw deep to receiver Chase Claypool who was defended by two Dolphins on the play. While it looked like Claypool was interfered with on the play, no flag was thrown. On the ensuing fourth down play, Fields threw to receiver Equanimeous St. Brown, but he failed to haul in the pass, sealing the game.
"Hard-fought battle," coach Matt Eberflus said, "Disappointed with the loss, and didn't come out the way we wanted to at the very end but certainly excited about the way the guys fought and battled at the very at the end of the game to get those stops on defense. I thought that was really good.".
Miami's offense was just as explosive with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa completing 21 of 30 passes for 302 yards and three TDs to earn a 135.7 rating. Receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle dominated, combining for 228 yards and 12 catches while each scoring a touchdown.
"We were facing obviously two really good receivers today with two of the top-5 receivers, and we need to do better job against those guys of jamming and disrupting at the line of scrimmage," Eberflus said. "I didn't think we did a very good job of that, and also getting guys up underneath them the way we had planned during the course of the week. We needed to execute better on those items."
The Bears (3-6) took a 3-0 lead on the opening possession with a 32-yard field goal by kicker Cairo Santos. Fields completed passes to tight end Cole Kmet and receiver Dante Pettis to start the drive. On third-and-2, Fields' deep ball to Claypool was incomplete, but cornerback Keion Crossen was called for pass interference, allowing the Bears to reach the Miami 20.
Miami (6-3) quickly grabbed a 7-3 lead on their first drive with a 1-yard touchdown run by running back Raheem Mostert. After completing deep balls to receivers Waddle and Trent Sherfield, Tagovailoa took a shot from the Chicago 33 to Hill in the end zone. Cornerback Kindle Vildor was flagged for pass interference on the play, setting up first-and-goal at the 1.
Fields then threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Kmet, putting the Bears back on top 10-7 with 14:52 remaining in the first half. On first-and-10, Fields faked a handoff to running back Khalil Herbert, spun right to avoid pressure and found Kmet in the flat. The tight end took it into the end zone with help from St. Brown blocking near the goal line. The 15-play, 75-yard drive was fueled by a 12-yard catch by Claypool and a 12-yard scramble from Fields on 3rd-and-8.
"I think [Claypool] did a great job this week, studying and preparing for the game," Fields said. "For the plays that he was in, he did the right thing. I think the more reps he gets, the more comfortable he's going to get with the offense, and of course the more detailed he'll be with each and every route."
The Dolphins took a 14-10 lead as Tagovailoa connected with Hill in the end zone for a 3-yard TD. Tagovailoa completed all five pass attempts on the drive for 73 yards while a roughing the passer penalty on defensive end Dominique Robinson set up another first-and-goal for Miami.
Miami extended its lead to 21-14 as Jaelan Phillips blocked Trenton Gill's first punt of the day. Andrew Van Ginkel recovered the ball then returned it 25 yards for a touchdown.
The Bears offense responded with a 12-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to cut the deficit to 21-17 just after the two-minute warning. On third-and-8 from the 16, Fields dropped back and hit leaping receiver Darnell Mooney in the left corner of the end zone for the score. The offense utilized the ground game efficiently as Fields had 26 rushing yards while running back David Montgomery carried it four times for 15 yards.
While Tagovailoa led the Dolphins down the field again with a 39-yard completion to Hill, the Bears got a third down stop to force a 29-yard field goal attempt. But kicker Jason Sanders missed it wide left seven seconds before halftime and the Bears took a knee to go into the break.
Out of halftime, it took the Dolphins just four plays to go 75 yards and score another touchdown, increasing their lead to 28-17. Tagovailoa connected with Hill for 22 yards then completed a 28-yard pass to Wilson. After a 7-yard run by Wilson, Tagovailoa found Waddle in the end zone for an 18-yard score.
Fields answered right away with a 61-yard touchdown run followed by a two-point conversion to pull the Bears within one score at 28-25. On third-and-6, Fields faced pressure and escaped the pocket, then made multiple Dolphins defenders miss as he broke free for the longest touchdown rush ever by a Bears quarterback. Fields then found tight end Trevon Wesco wide open in the end zone to convert the two-point attempt.
"We were expecting man on that play," Fields said. "They went with motion to man and on the snap they went to zone. I was looking for [Mooney], stepping up in the pocket looking for Moon and right when I was about to throw it to him he turned around. So, I kind of had to pull the ball back and at that point, instincts took over, and of course the long run and he made a great block downfield."
However, the Bears defense allowed a third touchdown pass from Tagovailoa to put Miami up 35-25 with 6:02 to play in the third quarter. The Dolphins faced third-and-7 from the 10, but Tagovailoa threw it to Wilson near the left sideline and the RB dove across the goal line for the score.
The Bears offense kept fighting as Fields threw his third touchdown of the day, connecting with Kmet from four yards out, the tight end's second score of the day, to cut the deficit down to 35-32 with 11:38 to play. Fields continued to dominate with his legs, adding 14-yard and 17-yard runs for first downs.