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Twenty-one years later, the Bears look to avoid a similar fate Sunday when they host the Miami Dolphins at Soldier Field.
Like that ’85 Bears squad—which won the only Super Bowl in franchise history—this year’s team is anchored by a dominating defense. Chicago (7-0) has held opponents to 9.9 points per game, just 93 total first downs and 268.9 yards per game—all NFL bests—which puts the struggling Dolphins (1-6) in a tougher position than they were at the Orange Bowl when they upset the Bears 38-24.
“Nobody gives us a chance to win this game,” Miami coach Nick Saban said. “This is a test. We should look at it as a challenge, and it’s everybody’s choice as to how we respond to that.”
Chicago’s defense has conceded only six touchdowns and forced 22 turnovers, including five in its 41-10 blowout of the San Francisco 49ers last Sunday.
The Bears had a 41-0 halftime lead thanks to stellar performances on both sides of the ball. The defense held allowed just two first downs, while quarterback Rex Grossman led the team on scoring drives on seven of eight possessions.
“I’m just glad I went out and did what the coaches asked me to do, respond from having a poor game and learn from some of the mistakes I made and continue to get better,” said Grossman, who was 23-of-29 for 252 yards and three touchdowns after committing six turnovers in the team’s previous game against Arizona.
While Grossman rebounded following a dismal performance, the focus defensively was on middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, who made a highlight-reel one-handed interception.
Urlacher is second on the team with 56 tackles, and his latest performance came following a national sports magazine survey of several hundred NFL players who rated him the league’s second-most overrated player behind Terrell Owens.
“With all that’s gone on this week about what they’ve said about him and stuff like that, he just keeps coming out and proving that he’s Superman,” said defensive end Adewale Ogunleye, who is facing his former team for the first time since being traded in 2004.
Ogunleye had a tackle and a sack last week after missing the previous two games with a hamstring injury. He spent three seasons in Miami, and has 17.5 sacks in two-plus seasons with Chicago.
The Bears and the Indianapolis Colts, who have a tough matchup Sunday against the New England Patriots, are the NFL’s last undefeated teams. While both teams are trying to be the first team since the 1972 Dolphins to go undefeated during the regular season, the Bears are short-sighted on their immediate focus.
“We’re still in a grind, man,” receiver Muhsin Muhammad said. “You need at least 12 wins to be considered a playoff contender. We’re not there yet.”
While the Bears aim for the perfect season, Miami has been anything but during its struggles. The Dolphins have lost four straight games, including a 34-24 loss Oct. 22 to the Packers before their bye week.
Quarterback Joey Harrington set a team record with 62 attempts, threw for a career-high 414 yards and two touchdowns but he also was intercepted three times.
“A lot of things were drive-killers,” said Harrington. “We dropped balls. I threw it to the other guys. We had penalties. There were a lot of things.”
Harrington has gone 0-3 since taking over for the injured Daunte Culpepper, who is still trying to rehabilitate his surgically repaired right knee. In his first season with the Dolphins after going 18-40 in four seasons with the Lions, Harrington has thrown more interceptions (seven) than touchdowns (three).
He knows the Bears defense will cause problems, but is still optimistic the Dolphins can pull off what would be the upset of the season.
“What we have to do is we have to eliminate the things that have kept us from playing a full game,” Harrington said. “That’s a huge focus this week. I believe if we do that, we will have ourselves a chance to win this football game.
“I don’t care what our record is or what their record is, the difference between the best and the worst team in the NFL is so minute, it has everything to do with confidence and emotion and being a consistent football team on that day.”
The Dolphins, who won the last game between the teams 27-9 in 2002, have won six of the last nine meetings between the two teams, and they are playing at Chicago for the first time since 1991.
“This will be the perfect time for us to have one—on the road, hostile environment, it’s going to be cold, there’s going to be wind, the Bears are riding high,” defensive end David Bowens said. “To go in there and beat them … we change a lot of doubters and a lot of minds.”