The Chicago Bears have shown they can win on the road.
Now, they must do the same at home.
The Bears look to avoid going 0-3 at Soldier Field for the first time in 10 years Sunday against the Miami Dolphins.
Chicago (3-3) avoided a third straight defeat and improved to 3-1 away from home with a 27-13 win at Atlanta last Sunday. Jay Cutler threw for 381 yards — his most with the Bears — Matt Forte recorded 157 total yards and two rushing scores and a banged-up defense held the Falcons to 287 yards and one TD.
“We’ve seen signs in the first six weeks of the season of the type of team we can be and the way we can play the game,” coach Marc Trestman said.
Not many of those positive signs have come along Chicago’s lakefront.
The Bears average 26.5 points and have a plus-6 turnover margin on the road, but have totaled 37 points and are a minus-4 in that department in home defeats to Buffalo and Green Bay. They haven’t dropped their first three at Soldier Field since 2004.
Cutler has been the poster boy for Chicago’s inconsistency.
He’s thrown nine touchdowns, two interceptions and has a 104.6 passer rating on the road. At home, Cutler has four TDs, four picks and a rating of 84.7. He’s thrown three of those interceptions and has a 58.1 QB rating after halftime in Chicago.
Forte, meanwhile, enters Week 7 leading the NFL in receptions (46) and is seventh in rushing yards (399). He’s averaged 164.7 total yards in the last three games.
Forte ran for 97 yards and the only touchdown in a 16-0 victory at Miami in 2010, Chicago’s last shutout.
The Bears’ tall and physical receiving duo of ex-Dolphin Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery could pose a serious threat to 5-foot-10 Miami cornerbacks Cortland Finnegan and Brent Grimes after the pair combined for 11 receptions and 249 yards against the Falcons.
“We’ve got to bring our A game,” Finnegan said. “There are some difficulties because those guys are special.”
The Dolphins (2-3) rank eighth in the league against the pass allowing an average of 221.6 yards, but couldn’t stop Aaron Rodgers from capping a 60-yard drive with a four-yard TD pass to Andrew Quarless with 3 seconds left in last Sunday’s gut-wrenching 27-24 home defeat to Green Bay.
“I think the Chicago Bears don’t give a rip what happened against the Green Bay Packers,” Finnegan said. “So we’ve got to go out there and give them our best.”
Embattled Miami coach Joe Philbin took responsibility after being questioned about his play selection when the Dolphins failed to run out the clock on their final drive, his use of two timeouts when the Packers had none on their winning drive and the coverage call on the last touchdown.
“I have to do a better job, first and foremost,” he said. “I’m the head coach.
Philbin and the Dolphins move on without veteran running back Knowshon Moreno, who suffered a season-ending knee injury last Sunday. Moreno, who played in only three games, gained all but 14 of his 148 rushing yards in a season-opening 33-20 win over New England.
Lamar Miller, the team leader with 330 rushing yards, is expected to get the bulk of the work and should be ready Sunday despite dealing with an unspecified injury this week. Undrafted rookie Damien Williams also is expected to see action.
“We’ve got some good running backs here, and we can get the job done,” said Miller, who was held to 53 yards on 14 carries last week but has three TDs in two games.
Miami ranks sixth in the NFL in rushing (136.2 yards per game) and third in yards per carry (4.97) but faces a Chicago defense that’s allowed 188 and 3.24 per attempt in the last three contests. Despite starting linebackers Shea McClellin (hand), Lance Briggs (rib), D.J. Williams (neck) and top backup Jon Bostic (back) all out, the Bears held the Falcons to 42 yards on the ground.
It’s uncertain if any of those defenders will be available for this contest.
Chicago’s Willie Young will be on the field after recording two sacks last Sunday to take over the NFL lead with seven.
Miami’s Ryan Tannehill was sacked once in the last two games after being taken down eight times in the previous two. Tannehill, who ranks near the bottom of the league in completion percentage (60.8) and passer rating (81.5), has thrown four TDs but three picks in the last two contests.
He’s completed 60.9 percent of his passes and has five TDs, six INTs and a 76.6 rating while going 0-4 on the road against NFC opponents.
*Photo courtesy of Chicagobears.com