By Bryan Dietzler
The Chicago Bears went up against one of the NFL’s best defenses this Sunday and blew away everyone’s expectations, possibly including their own, with a 37-13 victory over the St. Louis Rams in St. Louis. The Bears came into this game with several key injuries that made it appear as if they wouldn’t be able to get a win over the Rams. They were missing Matt Forte for the second straight week, outside linebacker Pernell McPhee wasn’t active and wide receiver Eddie Royal was out of the lineup. Couple that with wide receiver Alshon Jeffery ailing and it looked like it was doom and gloom for the Bears. You also had to take into account that they were playing one of the best defensive lines in football so many thought it would be a low scoring game that could easily go either way but perhaps not the Bear’s way.
The Bears had an offensive explosion in this game scoring more points than they have scored in any one game this season. They had two long touchdown plays, a solid running game and an even passing attack that helped them post 37 points in this game. And don’t forget the defense. They held the Rams to just 13 points and kept star rookie running back Todd Gurley well under 100 yards on the day. Special teams did have an error (a fumble by Marc Mariani) but overall they kept the Rams returners from getting big gains against them and even stopped a fake punt. It was almost a complete effort by the Bears.
The following is a look at five key factors in the game that helped the Bears win or gave them problems. There is a look at some of the stars of the game as well as two players that might have cost the Bears the game.
Miller Time-You can bet that fantasy football owners are scrambling to add Zach Miller to their fantasy teams. Miller had his second big game of the season against the Rams rumbling for a long touchdown run and then catching another touchdown pass from quarterback Jay Cutler. Miller has been a very reliable target for the Bears over the past couple of games and with the plays he is making Cutler could look towards him more often. Look for Miller to be a big part of the Bears offense in the coming contests.
Porter on Fire-Cornerback Tracy Porter turned in yet another solid performance after having a pretty good one against the Chargers on Monday night. He batted down more balls to prevent the Rams receivers from catching critical passes at critical times in the game. He also provided solid coverage on the opponent’s wide receivers and has shown that he is definitely the right man for the job at the cornerback position opposite Kyle Fuller. Porter hasn’t shown the negative effects that players his age sometimes get and he keeps improving with each and every game.
McClellin is Back-The Bears got linebacker Shea McClellin back for the first time since he went out in the game against the Chiefs and perhaps his being in the lineup really helped the defense against the Rams. McClellin is responsible for calling the defensive signals and without him in the lineup there have been times when the Bears defense has been out of position and has failed to make plays at a critical times. Having McClellin back, who knows the defense and how it’s called, is a blessing. McClellin also had a forced fumble which was recovered by the Bears. He had a solid game and it was nice to see him back in the lineup.
Forte Who?-Rookie running back Jeremy Langford’s performance on Sunday was one for the ages. He had two touchdowns, well over 150 yards in total offense and showed himself to be a complete all around back. He started in place of Forte who was out again with a knee injury (and didn’t even make the trip to St. Louis) and he shined. He had a long touchdown run off of a Cutler pass and then punched it in the end zone to increase the Bears lead and end any hopes of a comeback by the Rams. Langford may have shown that he is more than capable of taking over the workload for Forte who is coming to the end of his contract after this season so the question now is, will the Bears re-sign him or, knowing that Langford is able to play so well at the position or let him go into free agency.
A Case of the Drops-The Bears had two fumbles on the day and at least one of them could have been more costly than it was. The fumble my Mariani allowed the Rams to score a field goal and go up 10-7 in the game. Mariani has had trouble holding onto punts over the past few games and almost lost two in the Bear’s game against the Vikings. This time he did lose a fumble and it cost the Bears three points. He has to learn how to catch the ball and not let it get away from him. The Bears had another fumble, this one by Ka’Deem Carey but his fumble came when the game was already out of reach for the Rams so his wasn’t quite as damaging. He does need to hold onto the ball better but it’s his first fumble of the year in limited action.
This was a good all-around effort by the Bears in all phases although they slipped a couple times on special teams (with a fumble and a costly penalty). The defense started the game out looking confused and were unable to stop the Rams at the outset. They pulled it together though, put the reins on Gurley and stopped what many consider to be a less than potent passing attack. They played well enough on offense getting some big gainers which helped them. They got good production out of their running backs and tight ends but the wide receivers didn’t see a lot of action in this game and that’s because the Rams defensive line is so good at getting pass pressure and their secondary covered the Bears wide receivers very well in this game.
The Bears will play the reeling Broncos next Sunday at Soldier Field. After the Bears matchup against the Rams this game looks much more interesting that it appeared several weeks ago. If the Bears can play like they did this past Sunday and if Bronco’s quarterback Brock Osweiler struggles the Bears have an excellent chance of winning this game. And head coach John Fox will be going up against his old team so he knows them well and is bound to play them tough.