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The Bears made their last Monday night appearance of the season by playing the cooperative guest at someone else's party. They caused no trouble but encountered some more, possibly losing quarterback Jim Miller for what's left of the season with a knee injury.
With the veterans of the Miami Dolphins' undefeated 1972 team on hand for a 30th anniversary celebration, the Bears contributed to the festive mood of the 73,609 on hand in Pro Player Stadium, falling to 3-10 with a 27-9 loss to the Dolphins, their 10th defeat in the last 11 games.
"Not a lot good there," coach Dick Jauron said simply, adding that the Bears hope Miller's injury "is not real serious."
Miami's Ricky Williams etched his name in the Bears' record book, rushing for 216 yards, the most ever by a Bears opponent. Williams scored on runs of 15 and 63 yards as the Dolphins improved to 8-5 to stay in first place in the AFC East.
The Bears were down 14-0 when linebacker Bobbie Howard's interception led to their first score. He returned it to the Dolphins' 39 and lateraled to Jerry Azumah, who carried to the 21. An unnecessary-roughness penalty on Bryan Robinson pushed the Bears back 15 yards and they settled for Paul Edinger's 52-yard field goal. Henry Burris' second touchdown pass in two weeks, a 6-yard throw to wide receiver Marty Booker, completed the game's scoring with 44 seconds remaining.
Miller, already battling painful elbow tendinitis that prevented him from throwing any passes in practice last week, was hurt when defensive end Rob Burnett hit his extended left knee after a third-quarter pass. Miller was wheeled off the field on a stretcher with what was initially reported as a sprained knee. He returned to Chicago with the team and is expected to have an MRI exam Monday to determine the exact extent of the damage.
The Bears went with just 45 players active, meaning they did not have to designate a player as the third quarterback and use him only if the first two were no longer going to play. Burris had come into the game for isolated plays to show the Dolphins a different look and moved the ball with a series of late quarterback runs, all but one of which were plays called and designed for him to run. Burris finished with 52 yards on five carries and could start a game before the season is over.
"We'll see how Jim is and how Chris [Chandler] is, and Henry's next," Jauron said.
Chandler ran the offense after Miller's injury. Chandler threw an interception and lost a fumble to set up two Miami field goals and had another pass deflected and intercepted in the fourth quarter.
Monday's injury was just the latest in a painful season for Miller, who already is expected to have shoulder and heel surgery after this season. It was, however, just one of many hits taken by Miller and the Bears, who did not run an offensive play in the Miami end of the field in the first half.
The Bears were outgained 293 yards to 37 in the half and managed minus-1 yards passing with Miller netting just 6 yards on 2-for-9 passing and being sacked once for a 7-yard loss. The Bears had just two first downs in the half and did not drive the ball into Miami territory until the final play of the third quarter.
"We didn't do a good job of protecting Jim, of getting open and of completing the passes when we did get open," offensive coordinator John Shoop said. "That doesn't make for a very good game offensively."
Williams, who had 119 yards in the first half, became the third NFL player and first since Houston's Earl Campbell in 1980 to gain 200 yards in consecutive games. O.J. Simpson did it twice in the 1973 and '76 seasons.
Williams' 63-yard run was the longest of his career and gave the Dolphins a 21-3 lead.
"I didn't expect to have so many yards," Williams said. "The guys did a great job up front, and it was relatively easy."
The Dolphins rocked the Bears backward with nearly every early snap and kept it up through one of the most dismal offensive first halves for the Bears all season. They trailed only 14-0 at halftime because Miami fumbled twice inside the Bears' 20.
Miami's Jason Taylor and Jay Williams broke through to hit Miller on the Bears' third play from scrimmage, with Taylor collecting the sack to give him at least one in six straight games.
Miami then rolled for 55 yards on their first three plays and reached the Bears' 16, where receiver James McKnight took a Jay Fiedler pass and fumbled the wet ball. Safety Mike Green recovered, giving the Bears at least one takeaway in 31 consecutive games.
But Miller, who had thrown no passes all week in an effort to get his elbow tendinitis to subside, was intercepted by safety Brock Marion. Miami took over at the Bears' 38 and needed just four plays to register the game's first score, a 5-yard pass from Fiedler to Jed Weaver.
The Dolphins lost another opportunity to score when Brian Urlacher knocked the ball loose from Williams at the Chicago 12. The ball rolled into the end zone, where it was recovered by R.W. McQuarters to end the threat.