NFL Nation: 2013 Week 12 CHI at STL Rapid Reaction
November, 24, 2013
By Michael C. Wright | ESPN.com
ST. LOUIS -- A few thoughts on the Chicago Bears' 42-21 loss to the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome:
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.
November, 24, 2013
By Nick Wagoner | ESPN.com
ST. LOUIS -- A few thoughts on the St. Louis Rams' 42-21 win against the Chicago Bears.
What it means: Left out of the playoff conversations that have begun in earnest, the Rams sent a reminder to the rest of the NFC that they aren't going to be an easy out for anyone. A dominant run game that piled up 258 yards helped the Rams score 28 points or more in consecutive games for the first time since 2000. The win is the Rams' second in a row and again came at the expense of a team with a winning record. Now 5-6, the Rams still have almost no margin for error in their final five games, but they can at least stake claim to having a better shot at the playoffs than they did before this game.
Stock watch -- up: Running back Benny Cunningham. When starting running back Zac Stacy went out because of a head injury, the undrafted rookie from Middle Tennessee State stepped in and didn't missed a beat. Cunningham posted his first career 100-yard game and scored his first career touchdown to help put the game away late. All told, Cunningham had 13 carries for 109 yards with the score.
Stock watch -- down: Cornerback Brandon McGee. It's unfair because this was McGee's first extended chance to play on defense, but he was simply overmatched by Chicago's bigger receivers. McGee picked up pass-interference and holding penalties to set up a late touchdown for the Bears and had trouble in coverage otherwise. He'll improve from the experience, but his struggles helped Chicago stay in the game.
Fighting through injuries: The Rams were able to hang on to the lead despite losing three key starters to head injuries. Stacy, left guard Chris Williams and cornerback Trumaine Johnson left to be evaluated for concussions. After originally having their returns listed as questionable, they were downgraded to out in the third quarter. The loss of Stacy was particularly costly as he was shredding the Bears' defense to the tune of 12 carries for 87 yards. Cunningham replaced Stacy, Shelley Smith stepped in for Williams and McGee filled in for Johnson.
What's next: The Rams begin a two-game West Coast swing against San Francisco and Arizona, the two teams directly ahead of them in the NFC West standings, before returning to St. Louis for two more at home before Christmas.