Bears' swarming 'D' keeps Dolphins quiet
MIAMI (AP) - The Chicago Bears had a ready response for Brandon Marshall's taunting.
Julius Peppers and a swarming defense allowed only 187 yards and a single third-down conversion Thursday night, and the Bears won 16-0 to send the injury-ravaged Miami Dolphins to their second home shutout in 40 years.
Marshall drew an early flag for taunting when he flipped the ball at former Denver teammate Jay Cutler, standing in front of the Bears bench.
"We don't need that to fire us up," Chicago coach Lovie Smith said. "We were fired up when we stepped on the field."
Marshall also was penalized for an illegal block and dropped two passes before he left the game in the second quarter after aggravating a sore right hamstring. He wore street clothes on the sideline in the second half and didn't talk to reporters after the game.
Miami's already depleted offensive line lost center Cory Procter with a left knee injury. And with third-string quarterback Tyler Thigpen taking six sacks in his first NFL start since 2008, the Dolphins were no match for a Bears defense that took over the NFL lead in points allowed per game.
"Offensively we're embarrassed what we put on the field," Thigpen said. "I put the blame on me."
Playing in Miami for the first time since losing Super Bowl 41 to Indianapolis, the Bears (7-3) won for the third time in 12 days and moved a half-game ahead of Green Bay atop the NFC North.
The Dolphins (5-5) lost at home in prime time for the third time this season. Coach Tony Sparano declined to blame injuries for the dismal showing.
"Those are excuses," he said. "I'm not going to use them. I don't want my team to use them. This is the NFL. The next guy has to step up."
Peppers had three sacks and Charles Tillman recorded an interception for the Bears, who earned their first shutout since Nov. 19, 2006, against the Jets. The Dolphins were blanked for the first time since a 3-0 loss at Pittsburgh during their one-win season in 2007. Their only other home shutout since the first year of the Don Shula era came in 2001.