Defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff led the Chicago Bears defense yesterday with 5 tackles and 3.5 sacks. The 3.5 sacks were a career-high for Ratliff in a single contest and the second most by a DT in Bears franchise history, behind only Jim Osborne, who had 4.0 sacks on Sept. 4, 1983.
Yet after the 27-14 loss to the Miami Dolphins, the only emotion Ratliff felt was frustration.
"Man, we just can't let something like what happened today get away from us," Ratliff said after the game. “It was a home game, one that was so very important both to us and to the fans to get that win. It just didn't happen. We'll have to go back to the drawing board and start all over again tomorrow morning."
The Dolphins had a total time of possession of 37:22 compared to the Bears’ 22:38, meaning Ratliff and the other members of the defense were on the field for the vast majority of the game.
"Sure that was frustrating," Ratliff said. "What we were trying to do was give our offense good field position so they could take it from there. We didn't have takeaways, nothing like that and that was a problem as well. It’s always good when the defense can contribute in that way."
When asked about turf conditions that looked slippery, Ratliff deflected that excuse.
"It was the same for all of us,” he said. “We had the correct footwear on. Yes it was slick at times but that doesn't mean a whole lot. This is our home field. If we aren't accustomed to the conditions here by now, we never will be."
Ratliff credited Miami with utilizing an effective running game and taking advantage of small creases at the line of scrimmage.
"They were effective, no doubt about that," Ratliff said. "We have to be much more consistent and can't be caught flat-footed as a team. We didn't zone-read well and that is one of the things that lost the game. We have to step back, analyze our mistakes, get that consistency and that confidence back. There is no shortcut to that but just plain hard work."
Ratliff credited Miami's offense with “perfect play” and noted the difficulty of countering an efficient run scheme.
"Three and outs, that is what we wanted to see, but that just didn't happen,” Ratliff said. “Then there was that play in the second half where they were at 4th and 1. I thought we'd get the ball for sure that time but what happened? A 30-yard run. That's the kind of day that makes you shake your head and want to head back to Halas Hall and go through every move until we too have reached perfection. That's what we have to get to, not only as a defense but as a team in general. There is no room for error in the NFL. We all know that. Now it’s a matter of putting in the time and making things right."
Beth Gorr has been covering the Bears for the last 14 years and is the author of Bear Memories: The Chicago-Green Bay Rivalry. She is currently working on a second book about early Bears history.