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Bear with us: Play-by-play commentary
Welcome to the Bears' final Monday night game of the season--maybe ever. After this season, you've got to think they would have to win the Super Bowl for ABC to stick them back on the air.
You think Dave Wannstedt isn't looking forward to this game? Wanny faces his former team for the first time since getting the ax. The only difference between Wanny now and then is now he's got a real team.
We'll have football soon...
ABC dusted off Bo Derek for the intro in an attempt to make a thin connection between the 1972 Dolphins' perfect record and the Dudley Moore vehicle of the same decade. I guess it beats Jim Belushi, whom ABC trotted out in an early Monday night game this year.
Melissa Stark reports Miami is wearing all aqua for the first time ever. The Bears tried this trick against the Packers this year and it back-fired. Melissa Stark looks like she's wearing something on her head she picked up on Sportsman Park floppy hat day at Wrigley Field.
The Bears are called for holding on the kickoff and will start from the 10. ... As scripted the Bears run on first and second down and Leon Johnson, like Anthony Thomas before him, doesn't get squat. ... Jim Miller is sacked around the 5. And, yes, the Bears continue their streak of failing to score on their first possession. They haven't done it all year.
Robert Baker--or is that Deon Dver?--nearly breaks the return but it doesn't matter because the Dolphins are called for holding. Mike Brown is down on the play and he's not getting up.
Brown walks off the field but Damon Moore replaces him in the defensive backfield. Jay Fiedler goes right at Moore and James McKnight makes the catch over Moore. ... Miami runs a double reverse and McKnight picks up another first down. ... Here's Ricky Williams' first carry and he breaks around the left corner for about 10 yards before being tackled by Moore. ... Brown returns. Fiedler rolls right, throws to the end zone but it's behind the receiver. ... Here's Williams again but he runs right into Keith Traylor, the wrong guy to run into. ... On 3rd and 13, Fiedler rolls right and hits McKnight who just drops the ball after heading up field. Mike Brown falls on it and it's the Bears' ball.
Miller throws long on first down but it's picked off by Brock Marion.
So, here's the Dolphins again. Fiedler goes to Chris Chambers, who breaks a tackle for a decent gain down to the Bears' 10. ... Williams runs for about 5 on second down and then is stopped for no gain. ... Fiedler fakes to Williams and then hits tight end Jed Weaver for a touchdown. What, Randy McMichael wasn't open?
Dolphins 7, Bears 0
It's now seriously pouring in Miami. Hopefully we'll get a mud game. Ahmad Merritt falls down on the kickoff, gets up and then gets knocked down. ... Johnson runs on first and second for not much.
Sources tell Melissa Stark it's raining. Bears call timeout.
Unfortunately, the rain has subsided a bit. Johnson flies through a hole for a first down. ... Johnson runs twice more for 2 yards. ... As scripted the Bears throw 5 yards on third and 8 and will have to punt.
There's a flag against the Dolphins on the punt and a rain-soaked Wanny doesn't agree.
Miami starts from its own 10 and runs Williams up the middle for a couple. ... A short pass brings us third and 7. ... Rookie Alex Brown goes right around guard Mark Dixon and takes down Fiedler with one hand. ... Again Merritt has trouble fielding the punt and is taken down at the Bears' 41.
Miller's first-down pass is batted and then nearly scooped up for an interception. ... Johnson's short run brings up another third and long. ... Miller is sacked and flings the ball over his shoulder. It's ruled an incomplete pass. Big break there for the Bears. That should've been something other than incomplete. You can't fling the ball over your shoulder to avoid a sack. Either way, Olin Kreutz is called for a personal foul after the play. Bears will punt.
Madden isn't shy about ripping the Bears' offense and questions why injured Jim Miller is even in there in the first place.
Fiedler throws two incompletions and then on third and 10 hits McKnight for a first down as the first quarter ends.
Williams takes the ball 3 yards to the Bears' 40-yard. ... Fiedler tosses one out of bounds and then takes off for the first on third down. ... Williams hits the hole, makes a few guys miss and then fumbles the ball. It rolls all the way into the end zone where R.W. McQuarters falls on it for a touchback. Brian Urlacher was the guy who punched the ball out.
The Bears' Chris Villarrial hurt his back and Bernard Robertson replaces him at right guard. And here's Henry Burris--for one play. Jim Miller is back and throws an incompletion. I can't explain that. Jim Miller throws another incompletion and I have no idea what's going on because the cleaning lady is vacuuming the cubicle next to mine. I think the Bears punted. I think there's a commercial. Not sure.
Fielder from his own 10 throws to fullback Rob Konrad, who's left out to dry and nailed by about five Bears. Second and 7 and Fiedler throws it long. Joe Montana this guy ain't. ... Fiedler hits Chris Chambers just beyond the first-down marker; Chambers is hit by Mike Green and fumbles the ball backwards out of bounds before the first down marker. That's tough luck right there. The Dolphins punter trots out but now Wanny wants to challenge the spot. They're going to move the ball up a few inches and it'll probably be a first down when they measure. It is. First down Dolphins on the Bears' 23-yard line. ... Williams runs twice, bringing up third and 3. Mike Brown comes untouched on a blitz and Fiedler throws low. So after all that here's the punt and it goes out at the 32.
Miller completes just his second pass of the night, a six-yarder to Marty Booker. Al Michaels tells us Jim Miller has a QB rating of zero for the game. Is that possible? Don't you get at least a couple of points for signing your name? ... Johnson runs twice for no gain and Miller tries to thread it to Booker on third down. It would've been short even if Booker had caught the ball, which he didn't, and Madden rips the Bears' offense again: "Maybe the don't have an 8-yard pass."
I'm not sure what's confusing Madden more, the Bears' "offense" or when Stuart Scott on ESPN's pregame show suggested Madden "rock that old-school hightop fade" in order to keep his hair in place on this windy night in Miami. A tough choice.
On a play-action, Fiedler finds McKnight for a 34-yard gain across midfield. ... Williams follows that with 14 yards right up the middle. ... Williams again and then Cris Carter, back from kidney problems, makes his first catch as a Dolphin. For a long time there was not a better pair of hands in football. ... And then we're reminded that it's still Jay Fiedler back there as he lofts one into the end zone and there's no receiver within 15 yards. ... Williams turns the corner flying, hits McQuarters with a killer stiff-arm and dives for the pylon. Touchdown. Great run. The Dolphins went 84 yards in little over three minutes.
Dolphins 14, Bears 0
The Bears give the ball on first down to rookie Adrian Peterson and he, like every other Bears back, doesn't find much room to run. ... Continuing with the rolling rotation, now Henry Burris comes back in and throws incomplete. ... Jim Miller trots back out on third and long and he throws to Merritt well short of the first-down marker. But the Bears are bailed out by a pass interference penalty. What is that, their third first down? ... Peterson runs again, this time for 4 yards before being taken down by Zach Thomas. ... Peterson finds a hole this time but stumbles short of the first down. If the Bears don't go for it I'm turning the TV off. Oh, wait, it's third down. ... Miller fumbles the snap and Peterson falls on it in the backfield. Oh, brother. Doesn't ABC have a rerun of "The Bachelor" they could put on?
Williams runs untouched for about 14 yards before ducking out of bounds at the Miami 27. This may be a record for Monday Night Football announcers to forsake the game on the field. It's not even the end of the first half. Madden and Michaels have been eulogizing Roone Arledge for the past five minutes and slipping in some play by play. Michaels: "I spent a lot of time working with Roone, from the Olympics to Monday Night Football--Ricky Williams runs for 5 yards--and I'll never forget what he said to me during the Miracle on Ice game." Madden: "And don't forget Wide World of Sports. The Bears' offense resembles that ski jumper on the opening sequence."
The half ends and Dick Jauron looks like he'd like to be anywhere else in the world, including the Gaza Strip, besides talking to Melissa Stark. Stark: "Coach, you've got -1 yard passing and the Dolphins have outgained you 293 yards to 37."
"Well, Brad's punted the ball well," Jauron said. "That's helped us a lot."
Memo to the '72 Dolphins: Let it go.
Second half? I thought the game was over.
OK, if we must: The Dolphins receive the kickoff, are penalized 15-yards and will start inside the 10. ... Ricky Williams runs a few times and picks up a first down. ... Fiedler throws on first and hits my guy Randy McMichael for a 26-yard gain. Need more of that. ... Fiedler throws up a floater over Williams' head but it's picked off by Bobby Howard who flips to Jerry Azumah and Azumah takes off down the sideline before being pushed out inside the 20. Huge play for the Bears. Of course something bad has to happen: Bryan Robinson is flagged for a personal foul that backs the Bears up 15 yards. He nailed some guy in the back way behind the play. What's the point?
So the Bears start at the 42 and Henry Burris comes in, scrambles and has to throw it away. Burris leaves and Miller comes back. ... Third and 8 and Miller underthrows Booker. The refs are going to give it to them and Miller hustles the offense to the line to try and run a play so the Dolphins can't challenge. The replay shows the ball clearly bounced before a sliding Booker corralled it.
The Miami sound guy uses Tom Petty's "The Waiting" during replay challenges, which is much better than the J. Geil's Band "Freeze Frame" the rest of the league uses. Neither song is great, but they both beat Lionel Richie's "Do it to Me One More Time," which, I guess, could be another option.
Like I said, the ball bounced. Fourth down and Edinger will come on to try a 52-yarder. It's good with plenty to spare and the Bears are on the board.
Dolphins 14, Bears 3
Back to Ricky Williams and he runs for about 8 on first down after the kickoff and then--good bye--takes off 63 yards all the way to end zone, making fantasy football types everywhere giddy with dreadlocked joy.
After Merritt brings the kickoff to the 29, Johnson gets nothing on first down. ... Miller then throws underneath to Booker for 3 yards and sails one out of bounds. Miller took a shot and is now clutching his left knee.
Chris Chandler is warming up on the sidelines but still wearing his baseball cap. Let's hope the multi-concussed veteran QB remembers his helmet.
All joking aside, Miller's injury looks pretty serious. He took a direct shot right to his knee with his front foot planted. He leaves on a cart.
Maynard's punt skids out of bounds around 32.
Williams runs for a few and goes over 200 yards for the second straight week. ... Fiedler then takes a shot long but it's broken up. The Bears are called for defensive holding, so the Dolphins pick up a first down at the 43. ... Williams runs twice more but can't get much. Azumah and Urlacher nailed him for a loss on third down and the 'Fins will punt. Some confusion of who touched what first but the Bears will start at the 25.
Ralph from Boston has figured out the Bears' offense:
"Talk about scripted plays: 1st down up the gut for little or no gain. 2nd Down either run or swing pass for little or no gain. 3rd down short pass for no gain or long pass and miss reciever and then an injury."
Let's see if it changes with Chandler in there.
It does. Chandler starts with two straight passes, picking up a first.
Al Michaels is saying the Dolphins all-aqua get-up is based on marketing, not tradition, as the team claims. Earth to Al, when's the last time you saw a fan wearing his favorite team's pants. Not a hot selling item, I'd imagine.
Chandler dumps one to Peterson and he makes something out of not much and then Johnson dives up the middle past midfield for the first down. ... The Bears are called for offensive pass interference and I've lost track of the downs contemplating the whole pants issue. ... Chandler finds Booker downfield for the Bears' biggest gain of the night.
The final quarter starts perfectly timed with the start of the vacuum again.
Johnson runs for a few inside the 20 and the Bears are threatening to get into the red zone. ... Chandler throws incomplete on third and the Bears will go for it on fourth. Another incompletion but the Bears' are bailed out by a Dolphin penalty. Offsides makes it fourth and 1 at the 18. ... Chandler flutters one high to rookie tight end John Gilmore and Miami will take over.
ABC just showed a shot of Jerry Angelo dialing his cell phone, perhaps placing a call to Carson Palmer's agent. Does the kid have an agent yet?
Williams, apparently content with his night, doesn't get much on first down. And Fiedler twice throws incompete as the Dolphins go three and out.
Larry Csonka will join Madden and Michaels in the booth after the break. If this is anything like his rambling halftime speech, this ought to be not fun.
Chandler completes one to Gilmore and ABC isn't even showing the game anymore, just Csonka dressed in an aqua blazer--another crack marketing idea?--chatting up Madden.
So the Bears go for it on fourth and 10 and Chandler's pass is broken up and you get the feeling that's the game even though there's still over 11 minutes left in this one.
A number of readers are wondering why not just play Burris the rest of the way?
The Dolphins go three and out, helped by a nice play by Keith Traylor hustling down the line of scrimmage to pressure Fielder.
Another reader suggests Angelo was dialing up Marvin Lewis. So, the Bears start at their own 28 with Chandler still in there. He throws what looked more like a first baseman warming up the infield on first down and then is picked by Jamar Fletcher, who returns it to the 10.
A perfect opportunity to get me those needed Randy McMichael points. Throw it to the young guy, Wanny. Instead Williams runs right for a few before slipping on the wet grass. On third down, Wanny, who's apparently reading this commentary, has Fielder take a shot at McMichael in the back of the end zone. Alas, it's broken up. Field goal.
Dolphins 24, Bears 3
The Bears' series is ended by a sack of Chandler and a fumble, recovered by Miami. Looks like ABC has found its new sitcom for the fall.
Miami does this, that and the other and settles for another field goal.
Dolphins 27, Bears 3
Former Hoosier Adewale Ogunleye must not be on the active roster this week. (That's an inside joke between me and a guy at an IU computer lab.)
So the Bears get the ball back and promptly turn it over again. Chandler's pass is tipped and scooped up by tackle Jermaine Haley around midfield. Leonard Henry is the Dolphins' running back and Sage Rosenfels is the QB and they're still moving down the field. Henry runs for two straight first downs.
For the readers who are wondering, pitchers and catchers not named Todd Hundley report Feb. 14.
Haley runs for a few more and there's a shot of Mike McCaskey. He can't be too pleased to see himself on TV. He goes back to peering through his binoculars. Jerry Azumah stuffs Haley on third down and the Dolphins lose the ball on downs as Fielder gets sacked.
Burris comes in and runs for a first down and that takes us to the two-minute warning. Burris runs again. He's not even giving a token drop back, just grabbing the smap and taking off. ... He we go again. Another first down down to the 11. Three straight. At least on that one he dropped back for two steps. ... The Dolphins get wise to his ways and take him down in the backfield. ... Burris takes it right behind Kreutz inside the 5 then hits Booker for a touchdown. The Bears will go for 2 to beat the 10-point spread and bust the 37 point over-under. Burris underthrows and Al Michaels, apparently with a lot of money riding on this baby, over-emphasizes the under in "underthrows." We get it, Al.
Dolphins 27, Bears 9
This one mercifully comes to an end.
Thanks to everyone who wrote in. I hope we made this game a little more enjoyable for you.