Bears blank Dolphins 16-0

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — With the


showing highlights from their 1985 victory over

the Bears

on the video boards Thursday night, the Bears put together their most convincing effort since Week 3 to show they are poised for a postseason run.

Stretches made to tie this game — 25 years later — to the historic meeting at the Orange Bowl were just that.

With a large contingent of Bears fans on hand and many empty orange seats in the upper deck at Sun Life Stadium, the Bears dealt a blow to Miami's playoff hopes while enhancing their own with a 16-0 victory that pushes them to 7-3, just a half-game behind the Falcons for the best record in the



It was the Bears first shutout since they blanked the


10-0 on Nov. 19, 2006, at


Stadium. Of course, that was the last year the team reached the postseason. The victory also is the 700th in franchise history, the


's first team to reach that milestone.


The Dolphins limped into the game with third quarterback

Tyler Thigpen

. Then Backup center Cory Procter left with a knee injury on the second possession and didn't return. Finally, wide receiver

Brandon Marshall

was lost to a hamstring injury in the second quarter.

He had tried to show up the Bears when he flipped a ball at former teammate

Jay Cutler

on the sideline after one of his three receptions. It drew a taunting penalty and the Bears had the last laugh as the defense surrendered only 187 yards and totaled six sacks.

After defeating the then-winless


and toppling a Vikings team that is imploding last week, the Bears put together a road victory in a short week against an opponent that entered with a winning record (5-4). It's their best victory since defeating the Packers on Sept. 27. It also marks their second three-game winning streak of the season.

Although they controlled play, they didn't pull away from the Dolphins until Matt Forte scored on a 2-yard run with 1 minute, 57 seconds left in the third quarter. It put them ahead 16-0 and capped a 13-play, 60-yard drive that was four seconds shy of lasting half of the third quarter.

Still, you never got the sense Miami would mount a threat. A promising drive to open the second half was short-circuited and

Robbie Gould

kicked a 50-yard field goal, his third of the game. Forte finished with 97 yards on 25 carries in what was the most effective ground effort since a victory at Carolina. That helped them have a huge edge in time of possession, keeping the ball for 37:51.

The pass rush that hasn't been very effective for the Bears — they entered tied for 27th in the league with only 13 sacks — produced three of the six sacks in the fourth quarter. Julius Peppers, who had not had a sack in five games, broke out with three, two of them in garbage time. He had just two entering the game.

Israel Idonije

picked up his team-leading sixth and Henry Melton and

Brian Urlacher

each got one. Peppers also deflected a Thigpen pass that cornerback

Charles Tillman

intercepted, setting up a field goal.

"We talk so much about the sacks," Bears general manager Jerry Angelo said. "(But) our defense is built for third down. We're playing a true Cover-2 defense right now. There's no bells and whistles to it. It's pretty vanilla, standard.

"And you can do that if you're getting pressure. You're seeing quarterbacks pull it down. You're seeing check downs. Those are the things we want from the (opposing) offense. And we've been getting that, we've been getting real good results on third down."

True to form, the Dolphins converted only 1 of 11 third downs and none in the first half when the Bears took a 6-0 lead on Gould field goals of 46 and 24 yards. The lead could have been bigger if Cutler had not made an ill-advised throw across his body for

Johnny Knox

that Benny Sapp intercepted at the Dolphins' 33-yard line with 1:46 remaining in the second quarter. It was his only serious error as he completed 16 of 25 passes for 156 yards.

The offense needs to finish better and there are always areas the defense can tighten up. The Bears have 10 days to prepare for the


and electric quarterback

Michael Vick

, the guy they are 3-0 against in his career.

"We started talking about Vick immediately following this game," defensive tackle

Anthony Adams

said. "I've never seen anything like (what he did Monday night) in person. I just want to be a part of stopping him."