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(Thursday, November 18th)
Final Score: Chicago 16, Miami 0
Miami, FL (Sports Network) - Matt Forte rushed for 97 yards and a score while Robbie Gould kicked three field goals, as the Chicago Bears took a 16-0 victory over the offensively challenged Miami Dolphins.
Jay Cutler completed 16-of-25 passes for 156 yards with one interception for the Bears (7-3), who have won three in a row and moved into first place in the NFC North. Green Bay is 6-3 and faces Minnesota this weekend.
Chicago recorded the 700th victory in franchise annals, which stands as the highest total in NFL history.
"The story tonight was, of course, the defense," said Bears head coach Lovie Smith. "Getting a shutout is tough, no matter where you are, especially on the road. Thought the guys had constant pressure throughout."
Miami was playing without its top two quarterbacks, Chad Pennington and Chad Henne, who were both injured in Sunday's win over Tennessee. Pennington suffered a season-ending shoulder injury on his first series, while Henne sustained a knee injury and was doubtful for Thursday's contest.
The start then fell to Tyler Thigpen, who started for the first time since 2008 and threw for 187 yards on 17-of-29 efficiency, with one interception.
However, the Bears defense sacked Thigpen six times and stifled the Miami running game. Thigpen was the leading rusher with 27 yards for the Dolphins (5-5), who got more bad news when receiver Brandon Marshall suffered a hamstring injury late in the first half and did not return.
"We didn't get out of our way on offense, couldn't help ourselves there, and really couldn't get off the field consistently on defense," said Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano.
Both offenses struggled early, though the Bears got on the board late in the first quarter.
Chicago threatened to get into the red zone before Cutler was sacked for a nine-yard loss and fumbled. However, lineman Chris Williams recovered, and Gould kicked a 46-yard try with 3:48 left.
Charles Tillman intercepted Thigpen on Miami's next possession, giving Chicago the ball at the Miami 46. But again the Bears had trouble getting into the end zone. Cutler's 16-yard scramble gave Chicago a 1st-and-goal at the nine before the drive stalled, and Gould came out for a successful 24-yarder nearly five minutes into the second quarter.
With under two minutes left to play in the half, Marshall caught a pass and was running in the open field. He pivoted and planted his right foot, then grimaced and fell to the ground in pain, grabbing his upper right leg. Marshall then limped off the field and was not wearing his uniform when he appeared on the sideline in the second half.
Chicago increased its lead on the opening drive of the third quarter. The Bears had a first down at the Miami 38 before losing yards, and Gould's 50- yard kick made it a 9-0 game.
After a Miami punt, the Bears at last got into the end zone. Faced with a 3rd- and-7 at the Dolphin 18, Cutler completed a 10-yard toss to Greg Olsen to move the chains. Forte then took over, running for two and four yards before crossing the goal line.
The 13-play, 60-yard march pushed the Chicago lead to 16 points with 1:57 left in the third, and the Bears defense completed the shutout from there.
Julius Peppers recorded three sacks, matching his career high. The Bears' six sacks were their most since September 30, 2007 against Detroit...Brian Hartline caught five passes for 70 yards to lead Miami receivers...The Dolphins gained just 187 yards and totaled 10 first downs. They were 1-for-11 on third-down conversions.
11/19 02:00:53 ET