Behind a balanced running attack, the St. Louis Rams piled up 261 rushing yards and took advantage of 10 Chicago Bears penalties en route to a 42-21 demolition on Sunday afternoon.
Josh McCown did the best that he could, throwing for 352 yards and two touchdowns, but it wasn't enough as Benny Cunningham, Zac Stacy, and Tavon Austin lit up the Bears with three combined rushing touchdowns.
For the second week in a row, the Bears got off to a wretched start on both sides of the ball. The Rams started out running the ball several times with Zac Stacy, and he picked up several huge gains. Then, they dialed up a fake reverse to Tavon Austin, and when he cut back to the strong side of the formation, the Bears couldn’t scramble back to get to him, and thanks to some tremendous blocks downfield, Austin was able to run it in for a long touchdown to give St. Louis a 7-0 lead.
Making matters worse, the Bears came out on the field and promptly turned the ball over, with Matt Forte coughing up a fumble that the Rams recovered at the four yard line. The Bears appeared to get a crucial stop on third down on the ensuing St. Louis drive, but in the first of many mistakes on the afternoon, Chris Conte committed a pass interference penalty in the end zone to give St. Louis new life. Stacy then took the ball into the end zone for the touchdown, and just like that the Bears were down 14.
After that brutal one-two punch, the Bears were able to get their act together on offense. They mixed in runs and passes well, and on a first down play in the red zone, McCown was able to find Martellus Bennett in a favorable one-on-one coverage situation near the goal line, and Bennett forced his way in to make it a 14-7 game.
Not to be outdone, the Rams marched back down the field and scored again, as several big runs by Stacy set up another red zone situation. Jared Cook pushed off of Jon Bostic in the end zone, and Kellen Clemens found him wide open for the score to give the Rams a 21-7 lead. The 21 points the Bears surrendered in the first quarter were the most they had in a first quarter since giving up 21 to the Baltimore Colts in a game in 1958.
On an eventful drive in the second quarter, the Bears picked up three penalties on a single play, with Kyle Long, Tony Fiametta, and McCown all doing the honors. Despite that, the Bears were given new life thanks to an illegal hands to the face penalty by the Rams, and they started moving the ball again.
Forte was robbed of a touchdown by a block in the back penalty against Earl Bennett, but McCown made up for it by finding Brandon Marshall on a nifty fake slant to post route that Marshall ran, and the Bears pulled to within a 21-14 deficit.
Once again though, the Rams were able to force the issue in the ground game, with Shea McClellin biting on several misdirection plays as St. Louis continued to savage the Bears. The Bears defense was able to tighten finally at the end of the drive, but the Rams did manage a field goal that gave them a 24-14 lead at halftime.
On the first drive of the second half, it appeared as though McCown was going to be able to bring the Bears back into the game, making several key completions to Earl Bennett for first downs, but the Rams stood tall at the end of the drive, stopping McCown short of the goal line at the one yard line. Marc Trestman opted to go for the touchdown instead of taking the field goal, but a missed block by Dante Rosario led the Rams to tackle Michael Bush easily in the backfield, and the Bears turned the ball over on downs.
With Stacy out of the game for the Rams with a head injury, Benny Cunningham came in for St. Louis and promptly started running all over the field. The Rams used him and a couple of key completions by Clemens to move down the field. The Bears were able to stop the drive thanks to a great blitz by James Anderson, but Zuerlein booted another field goal to give the Rams a 27-14 lead.
On the next Bears drive, they committed FOUR separate penalties to give the ball back to St. Louis, but the Rams weren’t able to capitalize on the gifts. On the ensuing punt, Devin Hester ran the ball back untouched for a score, but once again, the Bears committed a penalty that erased the touchdown, with Craig Steltz picking up a holding penalty at the line of scrimmage.
The penaltyfest continued throughout the rest of the Bears’ drive, with the Rams giving the Bears three different first downs at the goal line thanks to a collection of infractions. Finally, Bush was able to rush off right tackle and get into the end zone, and Robbie Gould booted the extra point to bring the Bears to within 27-21 in the fourth quarter.
The Bears’ defense couldn’t build on the momentum built up by the offense however, and once again it was Cunningham who took the surgeon’s scalpel to their secondary. Cunningham dove in from the one-yard line on a nice run off right tackle, and when the Rams converted the two point conversion, they made it 35-21 late in the fourth quarter.
With the ball back, the Bears did get a first down on a scramble by McCown, but on the next play, McCown had the ball stripped from him, and Robert Quinn ran the ball back to the end zone to give the Rams yet another score.