CHICAGO (Nov. 5, 2006) -- The 1972 Dolphins can breathe a little easier. And once again, they can thank a current Miami team for it.
Although Dan Marino was nowhere to be found this time, the Dolphins once again upset Chicago to spoil the Bears' bid for a perfect season.
Ronnie Brown rushed for a career-high 157 yards and Jason Taylor forced a fumble and returned an interception 20 yards for a touchdown, helping Miami beat Chicago 31-13. Brown carried 29 times and eclipsed his previous career-high set last season against Carolina by 35 yards.
Besides losing their first game, the Bears (7-1) saw linebacker Brian Urlacher hurt his foot when he landed awkwardly in a pileup near the end of the game. The severity of the injury was not known.
After hearing criticism from the media and members of the 1972 team, these Dolphins had their way with a team that had scored the most points and allowed the fewest. The defense constantly applied pressure as the Dolphins (2-6) snapped a four-game losing streak.
"A lot of (media) in this locker room and a lot of people in this country didn't give us a chance," Taylor said. "And I heard some of the crap that was said during the week -- that questioned people's character and everything else. You always want to hand everything with class, but sometimes you can't. People come at you the wrong way, and it's good sometimes to say, 'How do you like me now?"'
Miami's win removes another potential challenger to the 1972 Dolphins, the only team with a perfect record in NFL history. The Indianapolis Colts went into Sunday night's game with the New England Patriots as the only undefeated team this season.
The 7-0 start was the Bears' best since the 1985 championship team won its first 12. The only loss that year, incidentally, was to Miami -- when Marino threw three touchdowns and the Dolphins scored 38 points against one of the best defenses in NFL history on Monday Night Football.
Linebacker Zach Thomas said the Dolphins deserved criticism, but thought it went too far.
"It's a little overboard when you're an old football player and know how tough it can be to win," he said. "To say a team has no soul -- we've been playing hard, but we just haven't put it together. Maybe we need more of that."
The Bears lost wide receiver Bernard Berrian, their main deep threat, to a rib injury on their first possession and were buried beneath a pile of turnovers. Tied with Baltimore for the league lead in takeaways (22) and differential (11) entering the game, Chicago committed four fumbles and lost three to go with Rex Grossman 's three interceptions.
Grossman was under pressure all day and was just 18 of 42 for 210 yards and a touchdown. The running game never got going, either, with Thomas Jones carrying 20 times for 69 yards.
And the schedule doesn't get easier for Chicago the next three weeks, with games at the New York Giants, Jets and New England.
"If it doesn't hurt, how important is winning?" Grossman said. "So it hurts bad. We're 7-1, it hurts, we're going to think about it for a couple of days, watch the tape and get better and then put everything in perspective of what's out there for us to go get."
With the Dolphins leading 14-10, the Bears' Justin Gage fumbled the ball away after a 17-yard reception to start the second half. Miami's Andre Goodman recovered and returned it 33 yards to the Chicago 12, setting up Wes Welker's 6-yard touchdown catch.
Quarterback Joey Harrington, who was 16 of 32 for 137 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions in his fourth start for the injured Daunte Culpepper, almost single-handedly kept the Bears in the game. He overthrew -- and underthrew -- open receivers, and had his pass picked off by Nathan Vasher late in the third quarter, leading to a 38-yard field goal by Robbie Gould that made it an eight-point game.
But Grossman was no better.
He threw his third interception just under two minutes into the fourth quarter. And on the next play, Harrington connected with a leaping Chris Chambers for a 24-yard touchdown and a 28-13 lead.
One week after scoring the first 41 points in a 41-10 rout of San Francisco, the Bears were in danger of being blown out in the second quarter when Alex Brown intercepted Harrington.
With a 14-3 lead, the Dolphins had third down at the Chicago 5 when Brown leaped at the line and made a two-handed catch. The Bears then made it a four-point game when Muhsin Muhammad jumped up for a 30-yard touchdown reception along the left sideline after pushing Miami's Will Allen twice.
Otherwise, little went the Bears' way.
Notes: Berrian said his ribs are not broken and the injury was not caused by a hit. "I just fell on it kind of weird," he said. ... Miami cornerback Eddie Jackson limped off the field with about a minute left in the game. ... Bears CB Dante Wesley injured a knee in the first quarter.