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Sunday, November 24, 2013
Bears' run defense building a bad reputation

By Michael C. Wright
ESPN.com

ST. LOUIS -- Defensive lineman Corey Wootton pulled on a shirt slowly Sunday, shaking his head at the thought of knowing how his team’s next opponent -- the Minnesota Vikings -- might react after seeing the St. Louis Rams run roughshod over the Chicago Bears in a 42-21 win at the Edward Jones Dome.

“They’re gonna look at the film and say, ‘We can gash them,’” Wootton said. “I don’t blame them.”

Benny Cunningham
The Bears watched Benny Cunningham and the Rams run for 8.9 yards a carry and 258 yards total.
The Rams ran for 258 yards Sunday, with three ball carriers -- Tavon Austin, Zac Stacy and Benny Cunningham -- scoring touchdowns. Before the Rams began kneeling down in the final minutes, resulting in lost yardage, they’d averaged 10 yards per carry on the day, which would have gone down as the highest single-game rushing average a team had produced against Chicago in franchise history.

St. Louis’ first run of the day, an 11-yard gain by Stacy, pretty much foreshadowed what would take place the rest of the game. On the Rams’ third play from scrimmage, Austin took a pitch left that called for him to reverse direction to the right. Out in space, Austin shook Bears safety Chris Conte long enough to pick up a block, which allowed him to go down the Rams' sideline for a 65-yard touchdown.

St. Louis gained 81 yards on its first three snaps.

“We haven’t done a good job of stopping the run. We’ve got to try to find a way to do a better job. You don’t see that happening in practice,” Bears coach Marc Trestman said. “The guys are in the right place. But they didn’t get it done. I’m not gonna go into the technical aspects of it, but we didn’t [get it done]. We’re putting in the time and the effort. We’ve just got to continue to work at it. We’ve certainly got to do a better job next week.”

Wootton agrees, considering Chicago’s next opponent is the Vikings, led by running back Adrian Peterson. Facing a healthier defense on Sept. 15 than the one the Bears are fielding now, Peterson rushed for 100 yards on 26 attempts.

In Chicago’s last two games, it has surrendered 432 yards on the ground.

"I don’t know. We talk about [stopping the run] every week, but it doesn’t happen," Wootton said. "It’s something that’s definitely a cause for concern. If we even want to make the playoffs, we have to shore that up. We have Adrian Peterson next week, who is arguably one of the best running backs. We have to figure out what it is. We must if we want to go to the playoffs."

Cunningham rushed for 109 yards on 13 attempts, while Stacy contributed 87 yards on 12 carries. Austin’s only run resulted in the 65-yard touchdown. All three became a part of group of runners such as Jonathan Dwyer, James Starks, Peterson, Reggie Bush, Ray Rice and Eddie Lacy who have each taken at least one run for a gain of 25 yards or more this season against the Bears.

Stacy busted loose for a 35-yard gain in the first half, and Cunningham produced a 27-yard gain in the second half.

"They had a lot of pullers. They had a lot of zone schemes. It was a pretty good scheme," Bears defensive end David Bass said. "We lost. We’re going to use that as motivation to get back into the facility tomorrow, watch film, make the corrections needed and get ready for the next week. There’s not much we can do right now coming off the game except correcting and learning from our mistakes."

The Bears have now allowed eight runs of 32 yards or more, including three of 40-plus yards. They have surrendered 40 runs for gains of at least 10 yards.

“We expected them to start to try to run the football. Most teams do. They were able to get Tavon outside quickly,” Trestman said. “We’ve got work to do, but our guys are up for it. We’ve got a strong, hungry football team that’s passionate about playing the game, practicing the game and winning. We’re gonna get over it. We’ve got to get over it quickly.”