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Bears Vs. Rams: Notes, Scribbles, and Things Jotted Down

Finally, a comfortable win. We're going over our notes and minutiae from yesterday's game against the Rams.

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The most complete game of the year for the Bears by far turned into a legitimate, convincing win that for once didn't result in stress and heart attacks. After playing their last five games to the wire, it's nice to have a game that was comfortably won by halftime.

Of course, it didn't look like it was going to start that way. Jared Cook and Todd Gurley combined on all 80 yards on the first drive of the game for an early 7-0 lead. The Bears countered with an unexpected haymaker, as Zach Miller took the second play of the game, broke a short tackle, and dashed the other 80 yards of the way for an 86-yard tying score.

The Rams did next to nothing on their next drive, but on the ensuing punt, Marc Mariani coughed up the ball and the Rams had the ball in short field; the Bears defense held the Rams (aided by a holding penalty on St. Louis) and forced them to settle for a field goal.

The Bears got the ball back forcing a fumble of their own, as Shea McClellin locked on to Tre Mason and ripped the ball out; that takeaway was converted into a field goal itself. The next Rams drive started with a blindside block penalty to ruin things early in the drive, and the Bears' next drive would create a lead they wouldn't relinquish. Ka'Deem Carey ripped off an 8 yard and 5 yard run in the sequence, Jeremy Langford picked up a first down on 4th and 1 for 11 yards, a 3rd and 2 was picked up on a St. Louis roughing the passer penalty and a defensive holding penalty, and Zach Miller hauled in his second touchdown of the day on the very next play.

On a day when Alshon Jeffery was clearly hobbled, Matt Forte and Eddie Royal were already out, and the Bears were missing their top defensive playmaker, Sam and I wondered in the livestream where their next reliable offensive weapon would come from, and Zach Miller over the last two games has provided that in spades; this season he's picked up 10 receptions, 165 yards and 3 touchdowns, with the bulk of it coming over the last two games. Sam also pointed out it would be important to get an early lead and take Gurley out of the game, and the Rams had a hard time establishing Gurley on the ground at all. Gurley got 12 of the Rams' 21 carries on the day for 45 yards and one touchdown, and was pretty well nullified.

Speaking of reliable offensive weapons, the Bears' very next drive resulted in Jeremy Langford taking a screen on an ill-fated Rams blitz, and with nobody in front of him after Matt Slauson made a key block, Langford took it 83 yards for an exclamation point on a fantastic first half of football both offensively and defensively.

The second half was fairly academic, as the two teams traded punts and field goals, the Rams attempted a fake punt deep in their own territory for a turnover (converted into a field goal), turned the ball over on downs on their next drive (converted into a Jeremy Langford short-yardage touchdown), and Willie Young reeling in an interception mere moments after a silly roughing the passer penalty. And were it not for Ka'Deem Carey fumbling deep in Rams territory at the end of the game, the Bears would have won their first game of the year when winning the turnover battle.

So much to talk about; where do we start?

  • Let's start at the running backs, because while Langford is going to get all the buzz for having a 100-yard receiving day, well earned, Carey had himself a very good day in platoon duty, grinding out solid, hard-earned carries. Carey didn't do himself any favors with the fumble at the end, but a Langford/Carey duo, if this continues, could do some solid work going forward if Matt Forte continues to be out. Of course, Carey could find himself inactive next week, but really shouldn't. The duo had a great day against a defense that coming in had done a great job controlling the game on the ground.
  • Consider: The Rams came in not picking up less than 158 rushing yards in their last five games; and had only allowed the Vikings to go over 86 yards on the ground in their last four. The Bears, meanwhile, were allowing 4.6 yards per carry, 27th in the league, and were only picking up 3.9 per carry, 24th in the league. So naturally, the Bears dictated the game on the ground, because the Eagles Ravens Rams had decided to put the game in Nick Foles' hands. After the score to make the game 17-10, the ball immediately went into Foles' hands on each of the next four snaps; an incompletion, a holding penalty, an 11-yard catch, and an incompletion. The Bears scored the next touchdown, and the rest was history.
  • Just for the record, in the end, the Rams still ran for 4.5 YPC.
  • Predictably, the Bears went hyper-conservative coming in from halftime, but the runs and short passes did their job, with the defense playing an excellent game. Drives in the second half chewed up 1:32, 4:39 (7 plays), and 6:17 (12 plays, FG) before the Rams gave the Bears three short fields. So, there's a risk with going short and conservative that early up two touchdowns, but in this game, it totally paid off.
  • The Bears still haven't scored a touchdown in the third quarter all season. Not even yesterday. But, I'll take 12 minutes off the clock up by two scores.
  • Jay Cutler had his best game as a Bear, statistically, and the eye test backs up a very, very good game from the quarterback. Sure, two of them were fantastic runs after the catch, but the rest of his day was efficient, including being able to break out of the pocket for a 26-yard run; and personally, I haven't seen a quarterback slide with defenders behind him, but the run wasn't going to go much longer anyway. Once those two runs were on the board and the Bears were up two scores, the rest of the game was effectively on cruise control. Even taking 150 yards, estimated, out of his stats, Cutler's passer rating still would have been around 125. As is, a 150 passer rating isn't too shabby.
  • Les is going to have a fun time with Sackwatch this week. He gets to break down a broken screen. Both sacks came right up the middle; while the first was a pure jailbreak from pulling linemen, the second was a weak middle of the line that Cutler had to step up towards because Charles Leno got beat, and the middle was giving up pressure in the mid-late portions of the game, which disrupted the offense's rhythm a bit.
  • To the defense, and Shea McClellin made his presence felt... by having a terrible first drive, then playing some very solid football. Also in the "very solid football" category, Tracy Porter, for two great pass deflections and three stops. The Bears were generally very good about finding the ball outside of that first drive.
  • The Bears don't always get sacks, but when they do, it's Lamarr Houston getting them while the Bears have a lead.
  • Not sure how Marc Mariani can continue to return punts or kicks. His two kick returns were both short of the 20 coming out of the end zone and he's got to hold on to that ball on punts.
  • You know, I'm okay with Bryce Callahan and Jonathan Anderson continuing to get snaps.
  • It doesn't really seem like the defensive line misses Jeremiah Ratliff. Which is great.
  • I rather enjoyed that Wes Welker's first reception as a Ram brought him in on 3rd and 17. I think the Bears are more than happy to concede 11 on that one.
  • The reverse that killed the Bears with Tavon Austin two years ago would have scored a touchdown if not for a holding penalty; Austin's three carries on the day went for 18 yards total, quite a difference.
  • Not sure on calling a fake punt when the Bears are calling a normal defense on fourth down. And 7. From your own 23. With 10:21 left to play. That doesn't really seem like the best time for it.
  • One of the things that comes with playing through the whistle is the occasional silly penalty that keeps a drive alive for points. It was nice to see the Bears play largely disciplined football compared to their opponents. That being said, Langford should have had a false start penalty on one play, because Alshon got flagged for a similar movement later in the game.
  • And if I hear Jeff Triplette call a penalty by referring to a position again... I don't have anything really to add, but it's annoying, and he's not very good.
  • Aaron Donald is really good at this football thing.

So, we learned that the Bears may have played themselves out of the playoff hunt starting 0-3 in the division and 0-5 in the NFC, but 1-5 in the conference with three division games and another three conference games to go... There could be a sliver of a chance, maybe? They're sure playing like it right now. It's a good look for this squad.

What are your thoughts on yesterday's game?