Flashback to two weeks ago. The Chicago Bears were 2-5, barely ahead of the cellar-dweller Detroit Lions in the NFC North. People were beginning to write them off from making the playoffs, as they just came off a loss to the now-first place Minnesota Vikings.
Then, there were the St. Louis Rams. They were 4-3, the first time in nearly a decade they were over the .500 mark past week eight or later in the season, and just had come off a dominating 24-6 victory over the rival San Francisco 49ers.
And in the span of two more weeks, a complete reversal has taken place.
With the Bears 37-13 victory over the Rams on Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome, both teams are now 4-5 on the season, and in the thick of what is already a full wild card playoff race in the NFC. However, this time it’s the Bears heading in the right direction while the Rams look to try to turn things around.
On the game’s opening drive, it looked as if it were going to be a long afternoon for the visiting Bears. The Rams drove 80 yards down field in seven plays, and capped it off with a six-yard touchdown run by star rookie running back Todd Gurley.
But it all went downhill from there.
Gurley was held in check by the Bears, who entered the game in the bottom half of run defenses. He finished the game with 45 yards rushing, his longest run being nine yards, as well as leading the team in receiving with three receptions for 44 yards.
As has been the case all season, Rams quarterback Nick Foles continued to struggle. He was 17 for 36 for 200 yards with an interception. And he has only thrown one touchdown in the last four games.
That’s right. One touchdown.
Meanwhile, Chicago’s offensive resurgence continued on Sunday.
Led by 32-year old quarterback Jay Cutler, who has played much better than he has been made out to have, finishing the afternoon completing 19 of 24 for 258 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. There were two big plays on offense that ensured momentum stayed on the side of the visitors from the Windy City.
The first one came on the Bears’ second offensive play of the game when Cutler found tight end Zach Miller for an 87-yard score. Miller said after the game that he just “did not want to get caught.” That score tied the game up at seven.
But the second score was even more devastating for the Rams. With less than a minute left in the half, and the Bears already leading 17-10, Cutler threw a simple screen pass to rookie running back Jeremy Langford. And Langford turned that simple screen into an 83-yard touchdown pass that made it a 24-10 game.
For the entire second half, the Rams could only muster up a field goal from Greg Zuerlein, as the offense constantly sputtered. The Bears out-gained the Rams in total yards (397-285), in rushing yards (153-94), in passing yards (244-151), and had fewer penalties. Second-year offensive lineman Greg Robinson was flagged three times in the game for holding, as his sophomore season in the pros.
Chicago outplayed St. Louis on both sides of the ball, and in all phases of the game en route to their 37-13 victory, and it could be said that it was the most embarrassing performance this season by the Rams.
The loss further increases the criticism directed not only at Foles, but at head coach Jeff Fisher, who has been heavily criticized in St. Louis over the lack of success since arriving four years ago. While they have had six wins or more in each of his seasons as coach, they’ve yet to make the playoffs or finish with a .500 record.
Next week, the Rams face off against the Ravens in Baltimore, and the Bears host the Denver Broncos.
(AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)