Some thought the St. Louis Rams were beyond games like the one that unfolded on Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome, a blowout loss at home that conjured up memories of painfully frustrating afternoons in the not-too-distant past.
They thought wrong as a bright start quickly spiraled out of control in a 37-13 loss to a Chicago Bears team that was as surprising in its effectiveness as the Rams were in their futility.
“It’s terrible,” said Rams tight end Jared Cook, whose 4-5 team was outplayed by a 4-5 Bears’ squad that won its second game in six days following up a Monday night win over San Diego. “I think everybody in this room right now feels like crap because this is not what we expected. I think everybody feels it.”
Everybody wearing a Rams uniform was feeling fine after an 80-yard opening drive that resulted in a 6-yard touchdown run by Todd Gurley. It was the Rams’ first opening-drive TD all season and seemingly offered bright promise for another home win.
That didn’t happen.
“We came out hot, first drive we went down the field and after that it was just downhill, man,” Cook said. “I don’t know. We’ve got to figure it out.”
We came out hot, first drive we went down the field and after that it was just downhill, man.
Rams tight end Jared Cook
Rams quarterback Nick Foles struggled most of the day, completing just 17-of-36 passes for 200 yards and no touchdowns.
Razor-sharp Bears quarterback Jay Cutler completed 19-of-24 passes for 258 yards and three touchdowns, including two of 83 yards and longer. Bears tight end Zach Miller, who entered the game with five catches this season for 58 yards, caught an 87-yard TD pass and added a 2-yarder later.
Two plays helped define the loss and exposed a typically solid Rams defense.
The first of two TD passes to Miller began with a missed tackle by Rams linebacker Akeem Ayers near the 16-yard line, then another missed tackle a little further downfield and cornerback Trumaine Johnson unable to bring him down either.
Miller went 87 yards on the Bears’ second play from scrimmage and added a 2-yard TD pass later in the first half.
“I was surprised that second play went to the house,” Rams linebacker James Laurinaitis said of Miller’s long TD. “We’re a good tackling defense and for whatever reason today that didn’t show up.”
Even Cutler seemed surprised at how well the play worked.
“I think that’s the surprising part of it,” Cutler said. “There wasn’t anything to it. It was a quick-out, we run it all the time. He busted it back inside, broke a tackle and outran 22 (Johnson).”
The second dagger was an 83-yard screen pass to Bear rookie running back Jeremy Langford that accelerated from fairly harmless to lethal in the matter of a few strides down the left sideline.
We’ve got to be able to convert on third down, we’ve got to be able to stay on the field, especially with a defense like we’ve got.There should be no reason why we shouldn’t be able to put up at least 20 to 24 points a game to at least kind of just keep us in the game.
Rams tight end Jared Cook
With the Rams caught in a blitz, Langford got a couple blocks and then weaved his way through traffic before turning on the jets to finish off an 83-yard touchdown with five minutes remaining in the first half. It gave the Bears a 24-10 lead and the Rams never really threatened again.
Rams coach Jeff Fisher described a series of mistakes on the plays.
“We were in a post defense with single coverage and they got a block and we missed a tackle,” Fisher said of Miller’s long TD play. “You don’t see that happen against our defense, and of course the screen pass as well. You don’t see those big plays against our defense. Uncharacteristic of us today defensively.”
Playing in relief of injured running back Matt Forte, Langford added a 6-yard TD run and finished with 73 yards rushing on 20 carries. Langford also had seven receptions for 109 yards.
Langford was untouched on an 83-yard TD on a screen caught behind the line of scrimmage, and also had a 6-yard scoring run. The running back, filling in for the injured Matt Forte, had seven catches for 109 yards and 73 yards on 20 carries.
Things started out great for the Rams, who took the opening kickoff and went 80-yards for a touchdown.
A 29-yard pass from Foles to Cook and a gravity-defying run by Gurley that saw him hurdle a Bears safety moved the ball downfield quickly. Gurley scored his fifth TD this season on a 6-yard run, his fourth straight game with at least one touchdown.
Foles was 9-of-20 for 100 yards and no TDs in the first half while Cutler was 12-of-15 for 233 yards and three TDs
The second half settled into a series of missed offensive opportunities by the Rams, with Foles failing to connect with his receivers and the Bears defense loading up to stop Gurley.
Gurley’s least productive day in the NFL included 45 yards on 12 carries.
Another second-half lowlight saw Fisher order up a fake punt with his team facing a fourth-and-11 at its own 23. The Bears had things covered effective and punter Johnny Hekker’s pass to Cody Davis fell incomplete and led to a 36-yard field goal by Robbie Gould, one of three Gould field goals on the day.
“I’ll take the fake punt, that’s on me,” Fisher said. “Somes they work, sometimes they don’t, but that’s our personality.”
Even on the rough days this season, the Rams’ defense typically could be counted on to provide an opportunity for victory. On this day, among the only bright spots were the play of defensive tackle Aaron Donald (seven tackles. 1.5 sacks, fumble recovery) and the punting of Hekker (six punts for 49.3-yard average).
“We’ve got to do better as players,” Cook said. “We’ve got to execute the plays that are called. We’ve got to be able to convert on third down, we’ve got to be able to stay on the field, especially with a defense like we’ve got.
“There should be no reason why we shouldn’t be able to put up at least 20 to 24 points a game to at least kind of just keep us in the game. Most of the time we haven’t been able to do that.”