The Chicago Bears defense — after struggling to slow down Miami Dolphins and wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle for nearly three quarters — finally came up with stops on three consecutive drives.
But a Bears offense that had been humming most of the game couldn’t come up with a winning drive as the Dolphins hung on for a 35-32 victory Sunday at Soldier Field.
Trailing by three points with 2 minutes, 50 seconds to play, the Bears’ drive stalled following two incomplete passes from quarterback Justin Fields. One deep shot went to new Bears wide receiver Chase Claypool, who was blanketed by cornerback Keion Crossen and safety Jevon Holland. The fourth-down pass to Equanimeous St. Brown slipped through St. Brown’s hands.
Fields rushed for 178 yards — an NFL record for a quarterback in a regular-season game — and a touchdown and completed 17 of 28 passes for 123 yards and three touchdowns.
Hill caught seven passes from quarterback Tua Tagovailoa for 143 yards, and Waddle had five catches for 85 yards.
After the Dolphins led 21-17 at halftime, the Bears and Dolphins easily traded touchdowns to open the second half. Tagovailoa hit Waddle with an 18-yard touchdown pass to cap a four-play drive.
Fields responded on the next series by running 61 yards for a touchdown. Fields weaved among Dolphins defenders at the 45- and 50-yard lines and sped by missed tackles from Duke Riley and Keion Crossen. Darnell Mooney made a block in the red zone to help Fields get into the end zone.
Fields hit Trevon Wesco with a two-point conversion pass to cut the Dolphins’ lead to 28-25.
But on third-and-7 on the following drive, Tagovailoa hit Jeff Wilson Jr. with a 10-yard touchdown pass on the following drive to make it 35-25 Dolphins.
After the Bears defense came up with a stop on fourth-and-6 at their own 35-yard line, the Bears went 65 yards to score. Fields had runs of 14 and 17 yards on the drive and hit Cole Kmet for the tight end’s second touchdown of the day, a 4-yarder.
Bears safety Eddie Jackson was called for pass interference against Waddle on the next drive, costing the Bears 47 yards. But the Dolphins stalled on fourth-and-1 at the 14 when Tagovailoa’s pass to Durham Smythe fell out of reach.
Get the Bears latest news | Get Brad Biggs’ 10 thoughts first | Get our free Bears alerts
Here’s how the Week 9 game unfolded at Soldier Field.
Bears wide receiver/returner Velus Jones Jr. is inactive for Sunday’s game.
Jones, the Bears’ third-round pick this spring, was not on the injury report all week. He played 15 snaps on offense and had eight special-teams plays against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 8.
The Bears acquired wide receiver Chase Claypool this week, and Claypool is expected to get limited snaps on offense. The Bears also have wide receivers Darnell Mooney, Equanimeous St. Brown, N’Keal Harry and Dante Pettis — who doubles as a returner — active.
Pettis replaced Jones on punt returns after Jones muffed two punts, but Jones returned one kickoff against the Cowboys.
Also inactive for the Bears are offensive linemen Alex Leatherwood and Ja’Tyre Carter, tight end Jake Tonges and cornerback Lamar Jackson.
For the Dolphins, wide receivers River Cracraft and Erik Ezukanma, running back Myles Gaskin, quarterback Skylar Thompson and offensive lineman Austin Jackson are inactive.
Fallout from Roquan Smith trade
Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson was leaving Halas Hall on Monday afternoon when he caught wind of the staggering news. Linebacker and team captain Roquan Smith had been traded to the Ravens. Johnson froze.
For the second consecutive week the Bears had dealt away a respected team leader, playmaker and well-liked teammate. Smith’s exit, five days after defensive end Robert Quinn was traded to the Eagles, felt like an uppercut to the jaw after a Week 7 punch to the gut.
By Wednesday morning, the emotional dip for Bears players was undeniable. Safety Eddie Jackson, who was promoted to take Quinn’s captain role last weekend, came to the team’s walk-through and was taken aback by the silence.
“You could hear a pin drop,” he said.
Former Bears defensive end Robert Quinn couldn’t wrap his head around it.
Like the national TV audience on Sept. 29, he saw the arresting images of Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa lying motionless near the 50-yard line with his hands frozen above him in a manner consistent with a brain injury during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
And Quinn saw the scene from the week before, when Tagovailoa hit the ground hard on a hit from a Buffalo Bills defender, shook his head slightly, ran several steps and then stumbled to the ground. Tagovailoa returned to that game after the stumble was chalked up to a back injury and then played against the Bengals four days later.
“I don’t see how people didn’t stop it instantly (against the Bills). He’s walking and he just literally collapsed,” Quinn said. “I’m not in the medical field, but I do know when something doesn’t look right. … I hope Tua approaches the situation and handles the situation as it should be handled. I hope he gets everything he deserves and more. To be put in that situation like that, especially dealing with your brain, that’s the one thing you can’t replace.”
Halftime: Dolphins lead Bears 21-17
Dolphins kicker Jason Sanders missed a 29-yard field-goal attempt wide left in the final seconds of the first half, but Miami leads the Bears 21-17 at halftime.
The Bears offense operated smoothly in the first half, but the Dolphins answered every single time — except for that miss.
Bears quarterback Justin Fields completed 11 of 15 passes for 94 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 53 yards on seven carries. Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa completed 11 of 13 passes for 162 yards — 12.5 yards per attempt — and a touchdown.
After Fields threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Darnell Mooney to cut the Dolphins lead to 21-17 with two minutes to play, the Dolphins marched to the Bears’ 11-yard line before the defense came up with the stop.
The difference for the Dolphins was a special teams touchdown on the only attempted punt of the half.
Dolphins linebacker Jaelan Phillips blocked Trenton Gill’s punt and Andrew Van Ginkel scooped up the football and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown for a 21-10 lead.
The Bears briefly had a 10-7 lead. With Phillips chasing him, Fields hit tight end Cole Kmet with an 18-yard touchdown pass. Kmet cruised into the end zone with help from a block from Equanimeous St. Brown.
But the Dolphins easily answered again with Tagovailoa’s 3-yard touchdown pass to Tyreek Hill to go up 14-10. Tagovailoa hit Hill with a 25-yard pass and Jaylen Waddle with a 26-yard pass on the drive. The Dolphins got to the 3-yard line after Bears defensive end Dominique Robinson was called for roughing the passer following Tagovailoa’s 4-yard pass to Jeff Wilson Jr.
Bears kicker Cairo Santos made a 32-yard field goal on the opening drive for a 3-0 lead.
Wide receiver Chase Claypool had his first catch with the Bears — a 1-yarder — and also drew a 28-yard pass interference penalty on Dolphins cornerback Keion Crossen. That got the Bears to the 20-yard line, but David Montgomery was stopped for no gain, Fields threw incomplete in the end zone at Mooney and Fields scrambled for 6 yards before the Bears opted to kick.
The Dolphins responded with a 75-yard touchdown drive capped by Raheem Mostert’s 1-yard scoring run. The drive included Tagovailoa’s 18-yard pass to Trent Sherfield on third-and-2 and a 32-yard pass interference penalty on Bears cornerback Kindle Vildor in the end zone against Hill.
Vildor injured his ankle on the play, and the Bears classified him as questionable to return.