The book that all old coaches read says you can't win if you don't do the fundamental things. Even against an 0-7 team.
The Chicago Bears finally won a game Monday night, but they didn't beat the Miami Dolphins as much as the Dolphins beat themselves.Coming into the game, the Dolphins' offense had been a coach's dream. They protected the football. They didn't commit turnovers. In essence, they didn't beat themselves.
"The thing that has allowed us to win games up to this point has been that we haven't been a highly penalized team, we didn't turn the ball over, we protected the passer," said a disgusted coach Jimmy Johnson following the Bears' 36-33 overtime win.
"The one thing that allowed us to win prior to this ballgame is what got us beat. We didn't protect the passer, we had 13 penalties, which is ridiculous, and we turned the ball over."
Bears linebacker Bryan Cox said Chicago's blitzing scheme was the difference, forcing the turnovers and penalties that Johnson blamed for the loss.
"When you blitz as much as we have, we're going to make penetration and they're going to make penalties and mistakes," Cox said.
The Dolphins' offensive line had been the best in the league at protecting the passer entering the game. Four times all year, opposing teams got to Dan Marino. Four times Monday night, Marino went down.
The Bears got to Marino twice in the first half. The first sack caused a fumble that led to a touchdown. The second resulted in a safety.
They also got to him in the overtime, causing a fumble that gave the Bears the ball and led to their winning field goal.
The offensive line, stunned by blitzing Bears that ran over them and through them, was at a loss to explain turning around and seeing Marino on the turf.
"I really don't know, what can I say?" said center Tim Ruddy, who was called for holding three times. "I have to look at the films to see if they were bringing more guys or there were breakdowns. I'm sure there were some breakdowns."
Ruddy said the offensive line's protection of Marino was something the line took pride in.
"It's always nice when you're excelling in one part of the game, and tonight we weren't. We failed on our goals," Ruddy said.
The defense was not blameless.
Miami led 33-18 with less than six minutes to play.
"We had an opportunity to put one away and we just didn't do it," said defensive end Trace Armstrong of the defensive destruction that allowed the comeback. "It was a penalty here, a big play there."
At the half, with the Dolphins behind 15-13, Johnson told his players the team was still in the game.
"He said we had to just not beat ourselves," said offensive tackle Richmond Webb. "And we went out and did exactly that."