This one wasn't.
But hardcore, throwback Chicago fans still peeved about that historic whipping the Miami Dolphins handed the then-unbeaten (and seemingly unbeatable) and Super Bowl shufflin' Bears may have taken a little extra satisfaction from Thursday night's 16-0 victory at Sun Life Stadium. Good for them.
As for the here and now, the Bears (7-3) moved a half-game ahead of Green Bay atop the NFC North standings and, no less significant, pulled even with the Atlanta Falcons for most wins in the conference.
In this 2010 season of no great teams, who's to say Chicago can't be there at the end?
"That's what we're saying," Bears center Olin Kreutz nodded.
And here's what the rest of the NFL should be saying: Chicago has another wrecking-ball defense.
Ask the Dolphins (5-5), who in dropping their fourth home game in five tries managed just 187 yards of offense. Ask quarterback Tyler Thigpen, a third-teamer just four days ago whose first start in nearly two years just happened to come against Julius Peppers on a night the $92 million defensive end broke out of his sack slump by dropping Thigpen three times. And ask Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams, the two-headed tailback tandem that combined for 11 yards.
"Our defense has been playing great all season," said Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, who led his team to three field goals and a put-away third-quarter touchdown march that on this night and against this defense made a two-possession Dolphins deficit feel like four times that. "We're the ones trying to catch up with them."
Like every other team in the league, the Bears have their flaws. Cutler's decision-making comes to mind. The manner in which he was feasted on earlier in the season, thanks to an offensive line that bordered on unprofessional, may come up too, but let the record show that after surrendering 30 sacks through seven games, Cutler has gone down just six times during the current three-game winning streak. That same line paved the the way for 140 yards rushing against a solid Miami defense.
"The offensive line took over in the second half," Cutler said.
That was one half after Miami's offensive line was taken over; first by bad luck, then by the Bears.
An injury to starting center Cory Procter (who was playing for injured Joe Berger) meant the third-team center (converted guard Richie Incognito) was snapping to the third-team quarterback. It showed. Not only did Thigpen have to deal with some errant shotgun exchanges, but there was the matter of Peppers and the rest of the league's fourth-ranked defense swarming for six sacks and enough pressure to allow just one conversion on 11 third-down chances.
"We wanted to come out and establish the run and protect Tyler," Dolphins offensive tackle Jake Long said. "We didn't do either."
Not even the Wildcat worked. That's because the Dolphins didn't even try it.
"We prepared for that thing, too, and they didn't run it," middle linebacker Brian Urlacher said. "Thank you."
Miami also lost wide receiver Brandon Marshall when he aggravated a hamstring injury late in the first half. He left the game and did not return. On a night when the Dolphins could not run -- and barely tried (13 attempts, six by Thigpen) -- taking Marshall out of the mix only made things tougher against blood-smelling Bears.
"I don't think they did anything that we didn't expect," Thigpen said.
Except for, maybe, that whole domination thing.
"I think we're starting to hit on all cylinders," cornerback Charles Tillman said.
After Chicago's first shutout in four years, Briggs is having flashbacks to 2006 when the Bears' defense fueled a Super Bowl.
"We're a very confident group. Very confident," Briggs said. "You measure yourself at the end of the year. Greatness, I think, is measured by the guys that are on the field. Your opponents who play against you. ... We're playing good now, but we're going to have to play great to get that ring."
Ring? The Bears? Why not?
That's what they're saying.
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