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Kmet hauls in two TD passes in loss | Quick Hits

Bears tight end Cole Kmet
Bears tight end Cole Kmet

Bears tight end Cole Kmet stepped up Sunday at Soldier Field, catching two of Justin Fields' three touchdown passes in a 35-32 loss to the Dolphins.

Kmet gave the Bears a 10-7 lead with an 18-yard TD reception early in the second quarter. Fields spun away from linebacker Jaelan Phillips, rolled to the right and hit Kmet, who caught the ball in the right flat and turned up field.

"Cole is a weapon for sure," Fields said. "Every time he gets the ball, he runs hard. He puts his pads down and tries to run through guys. He's a big guy. We love getting him the ball. He's a great player and a great teammate."

Kmet later added a 3-yard TD reception from Fields following a play-action fake to Khalil Herbert, drawing the Bears to within 35-32 early in the fourth quarter.

"We've had that play in since camp," Fields said. "We're just working on that ball handling and just selling the fake. The running back has to sell it too. Khalil did a great job on that. Just great execution all the way around."

Kmet, who caught five passes for 41 yards, became the first Bears player with multiple TD receptions in a game since fellow tight end Jimmy Graham had two Dec. 27, 2020, in a 41-17 win over the Jaguars in Jacksonville.

Good start: Less than a week after being acquired in a trade from the Steelers, receiver Chase Claypool made an immediate impact in his first game with the Bears.

On the third play from scrimmage Sunday, the third-year pro drew a 28-yard pass interference penalty on cornerback Keion Crossen, setting up Cairo Santos' 32-yard field goal. Claypool later caught a 12-yard pass from Fields in the first quarter and gained four yards on a jet sweep in the third period.

"It was super fun," said Claypool, who had two receptions for 12 yards. "I talked earlier in the season about the game slowing down. It sped up, but it was still super fun. It was like my first day playing football almost again. It was fun. The fans were super awesome, super welcoming. I'm excited to make an impact for the team."

No flag: Claypool nearly drew a second pass interference penalty on Crossen that could have led to a late game-tying field goal or winning touchdown.

On third-and-10 from their own 42 with 1:35 remaining and the Bears trailing 35-32, Claypool failed to haul in a 50/50 pass at the Miami 22. It appeared that Crossen had his arm around Claypool's waist and was pulling him back before the ball arrived.

"I wasn't sure during the play, but after I saw it on the [replay board], it was definitely 'PI' for sure," Fields said. "Just missed it. Can't do anything about it. Just got to move on to the next play."

"You feel something," Claypool said. "But it doesn't really matter what I kind of think. Just got to play the next down and see what happens after that."

Defense rebounds late: The Bears struggled to defend Dolphins star receivers Tyreek Hill (7 receptions for 143 yards and 1 TD) and Jaylen Waddle (5-85-1).

Tua Tagovailoa, who entered Week 9 leading the NFL with a 112.7 passer rating, completed 21 of 30 passes for 302 yards with three TDs and a 135.7 rating.

Tagovailoa engineered four 75-yard touchdown drives on Miami's first five possessions of the game to give the Dolphins a 28-17 lead early in the second half. The only time they didn't score during that span was when Jason Sanders missed a 29-yard field-goal attempt wide left late in the first half.

But the Bears defense stiffened, stopping the Dolphins on their next three possessions, twice on downs and once forcing Miami's only punt of the game, giving the offense the ball back at its own 35, 15 and 28.

"We just went out there and had our mindset, 'look, they've been scoring on us, that's on us, that's not how we play. We've just got to put this fire out,'" said safety Eddie Jackson. "Letting guys go down here and just score on us on back-to-back drives, that's not us, so we've got to get back to our playing style."

The offense followed the first defensive stop with a TD to draw to within 35-32 early in the fourth quarter, but failed to advance beyond its own 44 on its final two drives.

On the run: Fields' record-breaking performance enabled the Bears to become the first NFL team since the 1976 Steelers to rush for at least 225 yards in four straight games.

The Bears ran for 252 yards on 40 carries Sunday, led by Fields, whose 178 yards were the most by a quarterback in a regular-season game in NFL history. David Montgomery added 36 yards on 14 attempts and Herbert ran for 23 yards on seven carries.

It's the first time the Bears have rushed for at least 200 yards in four straight games since 1956.

Perfect execution: Fields' most impressive pass of the game resulted in a 16-yard touchdown reception by Darnell Mooney late in the first half.

Fields threw the ball in the corner of the end zone where only Mooney could catch it, and the Bears receiver leaped high over Pro Bowl cornerback Xavien Howard to snag it. It was Mooney's first TD of the season.

"That's just man-on-man matchup," Fields said. "The guy over him, he was already inside leverage, so Dante [Pettis] did a great job protecting the safety from the ball and of course we had great protection up front. Really couldn't ask for a better play call in that situation and kudos to the guys up front protecting their butts off all day."

Up front: After missing four games with a knee injury, left guard Cody Whitehair returned to action, making his 100th career start. Veteran Riley Reiff made his second straight start at right tackle in place of Larry Borom, who was active but did not play after clearing concussion protocol Friday.

Man in the middle: Following the trade of Roquan Smith to the Ravens, undrafted rookie Jack Sanborn made his first career start at middle linebacker, tying for second on the defense with seven tackles.

On the shelf: Rookie Velus Jones Jr. was a healthy scratch Sunday. The third-round pick has struggled, muffing two punts this season and dropping a long pass last weekend against the Cowboys.

"It was about special teams," said coach Matt Eberflus. "We looked at our roster, our cover teams and we thought we needed to have other guys up for our cover teams. With Dante Pettis doing a good job with the punt returns, we thought this week that that was the right thing for us to do, and also based on the receiver position, we thought it was the best thing to do."

This and that: Santos made the only field goal he attempted from 32 yards, extending his streak to 19 straight, including 13-of-13 this season … The Bears made their first two-point conversion of the season on a Fields pass to tight end Trevon Wesco that cut the deficit to 28-25 early in the second half … Before missing a 29-yard field goal Sunday, Sanders had made all 32 field goals he had attempted from less than 30 yards in his five-year NFL career with the Dolphins.

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