Given the last 25 years of games between the two teams, any observer that thinks we’ll see a run of the mill game tonight will probably be wrong. A brief summary of the last seven meetings shows nary a “normal” game:
11/5/2006: The seven games are bookended by the doozies. On this day, the 7-0 Bears hosted the 1-6 Dolphins, quarterbacked by Joey Harrington. Joey Harrington! There might have been some halfhearted reminders of the 1985 Dolphins spoiling the Bears’ party, but no one in their right minds seriously thought the ’06 Fins would match up. But they certainly did. While Rex Grossman was having one of his early “bad Rex” games, throwing three interceptions, Miami running back Ronnie Brown ran for 157 yards as the Bears lost 31-13.
12/9/2002: The shoe was on the other foot in 2002, when the 3-9 Bears visited the 7-5 Dolphins on Monday Night Football. Prior to the season Bears fans looked forward to the first matchup of their team with former coach Dave Wannstedt. Unfortunately Wannstedt would have no problem with his successor Dick Jauron’s team. Miami running back Rickey Williams ran for 216 yards and two touchdowns, while the Bears offense was a clown show. Quarterbacks Jim Miller, Chris Chandler and Henry Burris could only manage 101 passing yards for John Shoop as the Bears were embarrassed 27-9.
10/27/1997: The Bears were 0-7 as they traveled to face the 5-2 Dolphins in 1997, and no one expected the Bears to win their first that week. This game was originally scheduled for Sunday afternoon, but due to the Florida Marlins hosting a World Series game, it was moved to Monday Night along with the originally scheduled Monday Night Football game. The Bears surprised everyone by leading the Dolphins into the third quarter, and the fourth quarter was a seesaw affair. The Dolphins actually led 33-18 in the final period before Erik Kramer drove the Bears back for two touchdowns to force overtime. In the sudden death period, bustout defensive end John Thierry forced a Dan Marino fumble and soon after, the Bears kicked the winning field goal for a 36-33 final score.
11/13/1994: The 6-4 Bears were just learning to win under Dave Wannstedt, while the 7-3 Dolphins were still a winning team with Dan Marino and Don Shula. Everything was odd about this game-severe weather was expected in the Miami area and winds gusted. Donnell Woolford intercepted a Marino pass, returned it 25 yards only to fumble it back to Miami. Bear receiver Curtis Conway threw a touchdown pass that was tipped multiple times to tight end Keith Jennings out of a swinging gate fake field goal formation. And in the end, the 17-14 Bear victory was preserved by a blocked field goal courtesy of offensive tackle James “Big Cat” Williams.
11/24/1991: The Bears were 9-2, the Dolphins 5-6. If you’ve read this article to here, you can probably guess who won. On a freezing day by November standards, one would think the Bears would have the advantage in 11-degree wind chills. The home team did lead 13-3 into the fourth quarter, but with help from a blocked punt while snow fell, the Dolphins climbed back and won 16-13.
9/4/1988: One game in 25 years that wasn’t memorable for any other reason that it was the Bears’ first without legendary Walter Payton at running back since the 1974 season. Neal Anderson, Thomas Sanders, Calvin Thomas and Matt Suhey replaced Payton admirably in this game by rushing for 262 yards and 5 touchdowns in the Bears’ 34-7 win.
12/2/1985: The mother of all upsets, still the highest ranked Monday Night Football game in history and one of the most watched television events ever, 25 years later. I’m sure you’ve all heard the story. Bears undefeated, Bears favored, Miami protecting their 1972 undefeated season, shock the Bears 38-24. But again, not a normal game.
Tell me how the Bears don’t win tonight? If they don’t, I have a feeling it’s going to be another game that they lose, rather than the opponent beating them.
Since it seems the underdog has usually prevailed in the last 25 years of this series, if history is any measure, that’s good news for the Bears. Miami has been favored in this game all week.