- Michael C. Wright, ESPN Staff Writer
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What it means: The Bears blew an opportunity to seize control of the NFC North with the loss to the Rams. Detroit fell 24-21 to Tampa Bay earlier on Sunday. So a Bears win would have given them sole possession of the division lead.
Run defense remains horrid: Before they started downing the ball at the end of the game to run down the clock, the Rams averaged 10 yards per attempt against a Bears run defense that came into Sunday’s contest ranked No. 31 in the NFL. By the time Benny Cunningham scored on a 9-yard run with 3:05 left to play, the Rams had already ripped the Bears for 261 yards on the ground. St. Louis finished with 259 yards.
Zac Stacy took the team’s first run 11 yards. Two plays later, Tavon Austin caught a pitch left, reversed field right, and picked up a block to go down the sideline 65 yards for a touchdown. The Rams gained 82 yards rushing on their first three plays from scrimmage, and set a franchise record by finishing the first quarter with 123 yards rushing (100 coming on Austin’s run, and a 35-yard gain by Stacy).
Austin, Stacy and Cunningham join Johnathan Dwyer, James Starks, Adrian Peterson, Reggie Bush, Ray Rice and Eddie Lacy as players to bust runs for gains of 25 yards or more this season against the Bears. Chicago has now given up eight runs for gains of 32 yards or more, including three runs of 40-plus yards.
Bass still opening eyes: Rookie David Bass was nominated last week for Rookie of the Week after making five tackles and tipping a Joe Flacco pass to himself for a 24-yard interception return for a touchdown. Bass followed that up with a sack against the Rams. He dropped Kellen Clemens for a 9-yard loss with 4:12 left in the first quarter.
Too much laundry: By halftime last week, the Bears had already topped their season high with six penalties for 61 yards. They finished with 13 penalties for 111 yards. Chicago obliterated that against the Rams -- not because of the number of penalties or yardage, but the impact of the penalties. Bears touchdowns by Devin Hester and Brandon Marshall were nullified by holding calls.
Missed opportunity: The Bears missed an opportunity to cut a 24-14 deficit in the third quarter when coach Marc Trestman attempted to convert a fourth-and-goal from the St. Louis 1. Trestman called for an off-tackle run by Michael Bush, but linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar dropped Bush for a 4-yard loss. St. Louis took advantage of Chicago’s setback and extended its lead on the next possession, going 73 yards in 11 plays with Greg Zuerlein nailing a 40-yard field goal to make the score 27-14.
Coming into the game, the Bears had converted 6 of 9 fourth downs.
What’s next: Another road trip awaits; this time, it comes Sunday against NFC North foe Minnesota. Given Chicago’s injury situation, look for the Bears to take the day off Monday before beginning preparations Wednesday for the matchup against the Vikings.