A PRIME-TIME PERFORMANCE

On a night when the Dolphins retired the jersey number of a great running back, Ricky Williams continued to add to the greatest rushing season in franchise history. Williams again was sensational in leading the Dolphins to a much-needed 27-9 victory over the Chicago Bears.<P>

In addition to scoring two touchdowns, Williams became the third player in NFL history to rush for 200 yards or more in consecutive games, joining O.J. Simpson (1973 and 1976) and Earl Campbell (1980) in that exclusive club.

And Williams reached 200 in the third quarter on the possession after his career-long 63-yard touchdown run gave the Dolphins a 21-3 lead.

Williams finished with 216 yards, giving him an even 1,500 yards on the season.

The only bad news as far as that's concerned is that the Dolphins now will have to give up their first-round pick to New Orleans as part of the trade that brought Williams to Miami.

But that's a small price to pay for a running back who has the Dolphins tied for first place in the AFC East.

The Dolphins improved to 8-5 on Monday, tied with New England atop the AFC East. If the Dolphins can win the rest of their games, they will do no worse than the second seed in the AFC playoffs and it could be the No. 1 seed if Tennessee were to lose at least one of its last three games.

The victory over the Bears was more than Williams, as the defense totally shut down the Chicago offense in addition to forcing four turnovers — interceptions by Brock Marion, Jamar Fletcher and Jermaine Haley, and a fumble recovery by Adewale Ogunleye.

The Dolphins established their dominance early, holding Chicago without a first down on the first possession of the game and closing the defensive stand with Jason Taylor's sack of Jim Miller.

The Dolphins then marched downfield before the drive stalled when James McKnight fumbled at the Bears 10-yard line.

The turnover only delayed the inevitable for Chicago, who only got as far as the Dolphins 49-yard line in the first half.

On the very next play, Miller tried to go deep down the right sideline but Marion came over and picked off the pass before stepping out of bounds at the Bears 38-yard line.

A 26-yard completion to Chris Chambers began Miami's next series and three plays after that Jay Fiedler hit tight end Jed Weaver in the back of the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown.

The Dolphins continued to move the ball up and down the field throughout the first half but missed another scoring opportunity when Williams fumbled at the end of an 18-yard run that would have been good for a first down near the Chicago 10-yard line.

The ball rolled into the end zone and was recovered by Bears cornerback R.W. McQuarters.

The Dolphins added to their lead with an 84-yard drive that ended with Williams' 15-yard touchdown run around right end.

The big play of the drive was a 30-yard completion to McKnight.

The Dolphins could have added to their lead in the final two minutes of the first half, but decided instead to play it safe with their drive beginning at their 15-yard line.

But the way the Dolphins offense was moving the ball, they wound up in position to take a shot at the end zone on the final play of the first half.

But Fiedler's Hail Mary fell incomplete. It was one of the few things that went wrong for the Dolphins in the first half.

The Dolphins wound up outgaining Chicago 293-37, and it was almost criminal that they only had a 14-0 lead to show for it.

After an impressive halftime show that honored Csonka and the rest of the 1972 Dolphins, the current team proceeded to finish off the Bears to give Coach Dave Wannstedt a satisfying victory over his former team.


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