The Miami Dolphins came away with a three-point victory over the Chicago Bears on Sunday, their third-straight victory over Chicago and their third-straight victory on the season. The win moves them to 6-3 on the year, puts them a half-game behind the Buffalo Bills in the AFC East, and gives them their second three-game winning streak of the year.
The Bears drop to 3-6 on the year, despite a 178-yard rushing performance from quarterback Justin Fields. They remain tied with the Green Bay Packers in the NFC North, but they trail the Minnesota Vikings, who moved to 7-1 on the year with a win today.
Here is our recap of the game and our immediate reactions from throughout the contest, as well as after the game ended.
Dolphins 35 - Bears 32
First Quarter Reactions
The Bears started with the ball after the Dolphins won the toss and deferred. They started with a seve-yard pass from quarterback Justin Fields to tight end Cole Kmet, then came back for a 12-yard pass from Fields to receiver Dante Pettis. The key to the drive was the Chicago debut of Claypool, who caught a bubble screen for one yard on the third play, then drew the defensive pass interference flag on the fifth play, moving the ball 28 yards. Fields was able to scramble for six yards three plays later, but the drive stalled at the Miami 14-yard line and Chicago kicked the field goal. Bears 3-0.
Not the best start to the game for the Dolphins defense, but at least it was not a touchdown. Safety Eric Rowe, who was a healthy scratch last week, started in this game, and Bradley Chubb was in the game and getting pressure early. Some good things showing, but they did give up the points.
Miami came out looking to respond, starting with a two-yard run from running back Raheem Mostert up the middle. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa then found wide receiver Jaylen Waddle for 17 yards across the middle. After a screen pass to tight end Mike Gesicki for three yards, Mostert ran for two yards. Tagovailoa then connected with receiver Trent Sherfield as the defense rotated coverage over Waddle and Tyreek Hill, leaving Sherfield in an open spot in the zone and Miami picked up 18 yards. Tagovailoa looked deep toward Hill in the endzone, with the receiver drawing the defensive pass interference penalty and setting up Miami with 1st-and-Goal from the one-yard line. Mostert punched it in on the next play. Dolphins 7-3.
Dolphins take the lead with an opening drive touchdown from Mostert! pic.twitter.com/uXHR2dGI3U— The Phinsider (@thephinsider) November 6, 2022
Good drive from the offense. They went 75 yards in six plays over 3:30. The DPI penalty helped, but the offense looks like they are ready to be explosive again. Tua was sharp on his early throws and they are clearly looking to get Mostert involved as well as Hill and Waddle.
The Bears nickel-and-dimed their way down the field on their second possession, starting with a running back David Montgomery run for one-yard, followed by a Kmet end around fr eight yards. Kmet then took the snap under center for a sneak for one yard and first down. After an incomplete pass, FIelds threw an outlet pass to Claypool at the line of scrimmage, but Keion Crossen missed the tackle and it turned into a 12-yard gain. Fields threw to wide receiver Darnell Mooney on the next play, picking up two cards. Another incomplete pass was followed by an apparent sack that turned into a 12-yard gain as Fields went into joystick mode and cut back and forth on the scramble. Two four-yard runs from running back Khalil Herbert, followed by a Montgomery run for three yards, then again for one yard, was followed by one-yard loss from Montgomery. Fields then found Mooney for 10 yards as the first quarter ended.
The drive was simply short play, short play, short play, broken play, short play for the Bears as they kept picking up enough to get the ball moving. Miami has to respond to that. They cannot allow the Bears to nickel-and-dime their way to success, while keeping the ball away from the Dolphins’ offense.
Second Half Reactions
After the break, Fields found Kmet on a short crossing route, aided by a great fake from Fields on the play action, and a block down field turned it into an 18-yard touchdown. Bears 10-3.
That was a great fake. Dolphins linebacker Jaelan Phillips actually played the fake well, reading and reacting to Fields keeping the ball on the play action. The defense was on the field for 15 plays over 7:41 on the drive. Miami cannot afford to allow that to be the norm for the game.
Miami started at their own 25 after the touchback, but backed up after an illegal man downfield penalty on tackle Terron Armstead. On 1st-and-15, Tagovailoa found Hill for 25 yards to erase the penalty and get the offense moving. On the next play, the Bears covered well and Tagovailoa had to take his outlet with Sherfield at the line of scrimmage, picking up one yard. They looked deep on the next play, picking up 26 yards on a pass to Waddle. Tagovailoa faked a handoff and rolled out to a crossing route from receiver Cedrick Wilson, Jr., picking up 14 yards. Running back Jeff Wilson, Jr., making his Miami debut after being acquired at the trade deadline earlier in the week, then picked up four yards on a run and four yards on a pass, with Chicago called for roughing the passer after the play. Miami picked up three yards to set up 1st-and-Goal after the penalty. After a Miami timeout, Tagovailoa threw an out-route to Hill who was wide open in the endzone. Dolphins 14-10.
Round off into back handspring. Judges give it a perfect 10!pic.twitter.com/WT2WaXyEGU— The Phinsider (@thephinsider) November 6, 2022
Miami responded again, and they are moving the ball well. How Hill was that wide open in the endzone is a great question, but it worked for the Dolphins so no complaints. Good to see both Cedrick and Jeff Wilson getting involved in the offense.
FIeld started the possession with a 10-yard run, but the drive stalled after that. Herbert runs for two yards and three yards was followed by an incomplete pass and Chicago was forced to punt. As they attempted the kick, Jaelan Phillips burst through the line to block the punt and Andrew Van Ginkel scooped up the loose ball and returned it for the score. Dolphins 21-10.
Good stand from the defense and a great job on special teams from both Phillips and Van Ginkel. Now the defense needs to do it again.
Jaelan Philips: I came in like a wrecking ball… pic.twitter.com/7CC9eVw13S— The Phinsider (@thephinsider) November 6, 2022
Fields started the Bears’ next drive with a two-yard pass to Kmet, then picked up 17 yards on a run. Two more runs, a four-yarder from Montgomery and a seven-yard gain from Fields gave the Bears another first down. A three-yard run from Montgomery, a six-yard pass from Fields to receiver N’Keal Harry, and a two-yard quarterback sneak kept the drive moving. Field then found Montgomery with an eight-yard pass, then the running back picked up eight yards on the ground. Montgomery carried again on the next play, but was stopped for no gain by defensive lineman Christian Wilkins. Mooney picked up two yards to take the clock to the two-minute warning. After the break, Fields looked to Mooney in the endzone, perfectly placing the ball over Pro Bowl cornerback Xavien Howard for the score. Dolphins 21-17.
The defense could not back up the previous possession’s stop with another, and the Bears moved the ball well on that drive. That pass for the touchdown was absolutely perfect. If it was placed anywhere else, Howard is able to make a play on it. Well done. Can Miami score quickly here, then turn around and score again to start the second half?
Miami started with the ball at the 25-yard line and 1:53 on the clock. Mostert ran straight up the middle for 14 yards on the first play, then Tagovailoa scrambled for four yards and got out of bounds to stop the clock. Tagovailoa threw the ball away as he was pressured on the next play, grounding it at Mostert’s feet - his first incomplete pass of the game. He then found Hill deep down the sideline for a 39-yard gain. After Mostert ran for no gain, Miami was called for 12 men in the huddle, with the team electing to take a timeout to avoid the 10-second run off. After an incomplete pass, Tagovailoa slipped as he tried to throw the ball to Waddle, who came back and slid to make the catch at the 11-yard line, with Miami using their last timeout. Jason Sanders came out to kick the field goal, but he hooked it wide left and the Dolphins came away with no points.
Well that was disappointing. The Dolphins did well to move the ball and make up for the penalty. They probably could have gone a little faster, but it all seemed to work - even when Tagovailoa slipped as he threw the pass. Sanders just seemed to miss-hit the ball and pulled it immediately to the left, marking the shortest missed field goal of his career.
The Bears knelt to end the half.
The defense is struggling to slow the Bears, especially on the ground and with Fields’ running. They have a spy on him, but the quarterback is still able to make people miss and pick up yards. Running quarterbacks are always a struggle for Miami, and when you have Josh Allen in the division, you would think they would have a plan to stop them, but it is starting to show up in this game. The Bears are not afraid to pick up three or four yards on a play each time, as long as they move the sticks. They are averaging just 5.1 yards per play, but it is enough to convert first downs and keep them in the game. The 20:31 to 9:29 time of possession ratio is showing exactly the Bears’ plan.
Miami’s offense is averaging 9.4 yards per play and is showing they can be explosive, but they are not getting the ball enough to take advantage of that explosiveness. Tagovailoa is 11-for-13 for 162 yards with a score in the first half, while Hill has three receptions for 67 yards with a touchdown. He is now over 1,000 yards receiving on the day.
Third Quarter Reactions
Miami started with the ball in the second half and looked to immediately get downfield. The drive consisted of a 22-yard pass from Tagovailoa to Hill, a Jeff Wilson run for 28 yards, a Jeff Wilson run for seven yards, and an 18-yard pass from Tagovailoa to Waddle for the score. The Dolphins moved the 75 yards in four plays and 2:13 off the clock. Dolphins 28-17.
Dolphins come out firing on the first drive, including the touchdown pass from Tua to Waddle.— The Phinsider (@thephinsider) November 6, 2022
That drive epitomizes the differences in time of possession in the first half. Miami can score immediately and from just about everywhere. The Bears will now likely come out and continue to run their ball-possession offense.
The Bears started the drive with a two-yard pass from Fields to Mooney, then with a Herbert run for three yards. On 3rd-and-5, Fields dropped back to pass and, as he was pressured, scrambled out of the pocket and found a lane down the field for a 61-yard touchdown. The Bears converted on the two-point try. Dolphins 28-25.
The pump fake at the line of scrimmage from Fields froze Jerome Baker, who was in a position to stop the run, and that was all Fields needed. He broke through some diving tackle attempts and then, with an aid of a block downfield on a closing Jevon Holland, was able to get all the way to the endzone.
Tagovailoa looked deep on the first play, but the pass to Waddle was broken up at the last second. Tagovailoa then threw to Sherfield for eight yards, followed by a 12-yard pass to Waddle. Jeff Wilson then picked up a yard, followed by Tagovailoa looking to Hill who turned a short pass into a 20-yard gain. Jeff Wilson then ran for another three-yard gain before a screen pass attempt had to be thrown at tight end Durham Smythe’s feet to avoid a sack. On 3rd-and-7, Tagovailoa threw to Hill, who turned up field and picked up 18 yards. Jeff Wilson then ran for three yards before an incomplete pass through the back of the endzone. On 3rd-and-7 from the Bears’ 10-yard line, Tagovailoa threw to Jeff Wilson, who turned upfield and dove for the pylon, scoring in his Dolphins debut. Dolphins 35-25.
Welcome to Miami!— The Phinsider (@thephinsider) November 6, 2022
That was a little more time-consuming of a drive for the Dolphins, but they got the points and continue to rely on Tagovailoa’s left arm for the offense’s rhythm. On that drive, four different players caught passes, and a play was designed for a fifth if the screen had not fallen apart. Eight players have been targeted on passes on the day. Miami is back out to a 10-point lead.
The Bears started the drive with a two-yard run from Montgomery, then saw an eight-yard scramble from Fields negated by a holding penalty. Fields then threw two incomplete passes and the Bears were forced to punt on the three-and-out possession.
Defense is starting to show up. Now the offense needs to take advantage and put this game away.
A 16-yard pass to Hill started the possession for Miami, then Jeff Wilson picked up a yard. Tagovailoa threw to Jeff Wilson for seven yards, setting up a 3rd-and-2. The shotgun snap on the next play was low and Tagovailoa was forced to fall on the ball. On 4th-and-6 from the Chicago 35-yard line, Miami elected to go for it, with Tagovailoa throwing toward tight end Mike Gesicki, but the pass was broken up and Miami turned over the ball on downs.
Going for it there was probably the right call. A field goal attempt would have been a 52-yard attempt into the wind, and Sanders already missed a kick in that direction. The low snap really crushed a promising drive for Miami.
The first play of the Bears’ possession appeared to be an interception by Miami cornerback Xavien Howard, but offsetting penalties, including holding on Howard, negated the play. Claypool ran an end around for four yards on the re-done first-down play, then Montgomery ran for four yards and one yard as the third quarter ended.
Good quarter for the Dolphins. They need to keep the pressure on the Bears and put this away early.
Fourth Quarter Reactions
The drive kept going on a 4th-and-1 attempt when Fields took the quarterback sneak up the middle for two yards. After an incomplete pass and a pass to Mooney for nine yards, Fields ran for 14 yards. Then he found Kmet for 10 yards before another Fields run, this time for 17 yards. On 1st-and-Goal from the Miami four-yard line, Fields found Kmet for the score. Dolphins 35-32.
That is definitely not keeping the pressure on the Bears. Fields has almost 150 yards rushing and is just finding way too much space every time he breaks out. His legs, and his connection with Kmet, are keeping the Bears in this game. Miami has to put together a sustained drive here and eat some clock before extending the lead again.
Miami started with an incomplete pass as Tagovailoa threw the ball at fullback Alec Ingold’s feet on another broken screen attempt. Tagovailoa then looked deep toward Waddle, who drew the defensive pass interference penalty for a 47-yard gain. Jeff Wilson then picked up three yards on the ground before Miami converted the first down on a nine-yard pass to Cedrick Wilson. Mostert then ran for one yard and seven yards on back-to-back carries as Miami continued to eat the clock. On 3rd-and-2, Miami ran the clock down and called time out. After the stoppage, Jeff Wilson ran for one yard. On 4th-and-1, Miami burned another time out, then Tagovailoa threw toward tight end Durham Smythe, but the tight end started to look away and Tagovailoa shorted the pass. Miami turned the ball over on downs.
Eating 3:48 off the clock was good, but Miami’s defense has to step up now. Fields has been able to run way too easily, and they have to have the answer for that right now.
Fields ran for three yards on the first play, then Herbert picked up five yards on a rush. On 3rd-and-2, Fields scrambled for three yards and a first down. After an incomplete pass, Montgomery picked up three yards, bringing up 3rd-and-7. Linebacker Bradley Chubb, making his Dolphins debut, got to Fields on the play, but somehow the quarterback got out of the sack and turned it into a 13-yard gain. Linebacker Melvin Ingram got to Fields on the next play, recording the first sack of the game, then Fields threw a bubble screen to Mooney, but it was immediately stopped by cornerback Kader Kohou after a two-yard gain. Fields threw incomplete on the 3rd-and-13 play and Chicago punted.
It was not a perfect drive for the defense, but it was effective. The Bears at 4:46 off the clock, but did not get anything out of the drive.
The Dolphins went into clock-eating mode on the possession, looking to run the ball. They lost a yard on first down, then ran for no gain on second down, both times using Mostert and both times with the Bears using a timeout immediately. On 3rd-and-11, Tagovailoa had Waddle wide open down the sideline, but he tried to float the ball out to the receiver and the defense was able to recover to break up the pass. Miami punted after a 26-second three-and-out drive.
Not good at all. Tagovailoa had Waddle, but he elected to float the pass rather than put it out in front of the play and it got broken up. That is a throw Tagovailoa will mention he should have done better.
The Bears, needing to pick up yards quickly, turned to the passing game. Fields found Mooney for two yards, then Fields ran for 12 yards leading to the two-minute warning. Herbert picked up two yards on the first down play, then Fields was sacked by linebacker Duke Riley who pushed him out of bounds as the quarterback tried to scramble. Two incomplete passes ended the possession and turned the ball over to Miami.
Defense did their job and the game is over with some kneels.
Miami knelt three times to kill the clock.
Running quarterbacks kill the Dolphins and Justin Fields did his best to make it happen this week. He finished the game with 178 yards on the ground, averaging 11.9 yards per rush. Even with a spy on Fields, he was able to make big gains. Miami has to fix this.
The Dolphins offense can put up points and win shootouts with just about anything. The problem is they (a) make every game a shoot-out and (b) they struggle when they have to slow down and eat some clock. The running game has to be able to get going, at least enough to put together a couple of first downs and keep the clock moving.
Special teams was up and down, with Phillips’ block/Van Ginkel’s touchdown and punter Thomas Morstead’s 51-yard kick being the highlights, but Jason Sanders missing his one field goal attempt for the low mark.
The Dolphins are home to host the Cleveland Browns next week before they are off for their bye week.
AFC East Standings (after Week 9):
Buffalo Bills 6-2
New York Jets 6-3
Miami Dolphins 6-3
New England Patriots 5-3