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The Good, the Bad and the Difference in Rams win over Bears

LA could have the NFL’s top defense

NFL: Chicago Bears at Los Angeles Rams Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Rams are 5-2 and they keep themselves in the conversation for “best defense in the league” following a 24-10 win over the Chicago Bears on Monday, allowing zero touchdowns by the Bears offense and twice intercepting quarterback Nick Foles. The Rams also sacked Foles four times, doubling the number of times he has been sacked all season long.

LA entered the game with one of the top-ranked pass defense in the NFL and they’ll only see those numbers improve after holding Foles to 230 net yards on 40 passes and keeping Chicago to 49 yards on the ground over 17 carries.

Offensively, the Rams gained 165 yards on the ground, their highest total since Week 3, and although there were a few concerns with accuracy and a costly turnover, LA had three touchdown drives of at least 50 yards and put up 24 points against a team who had only given up more than 23 once all year.

The Good

Jared Goff breaks touchdown-less streak against Bears

The Rams had only thrown one touchdown pass over their last seven games against the Bears. With a little under four minutes left in the fourth quarter, Goff threw his first career touchdown against Chicago and only the second by an LA quarterback since 2006. Even better, the touchdown pass to Josh Reynolds capped off one of Goff’s best drives of the season.

Jared Goff escapes pressure, picks up 16 yards

It seemed as though the Rams would be flagged for holding on this play if only because that’s the typical reason for a flag in that area of the field, but instead it was called on Akiem Hicks. Which meant that lost in the action of the flag was Goff escaping pressure and accurately throwing to Gerald Everett on the sidelines for a first down.

Terrell Burgess makes third down stop with Bears deep in their own territory

The Rams got the first opportunity for good field position in the game after Johnny Hekker pinned the Bears offense at their own seven and LA’s defense forced Chicago to punt four plays later. The stop on third down came from Terrell Burgess, an early sign in the game that Brandon Staley’s ready to utilize the third round rookie with regularity.

Burgess followed it up with another third down stop early in the second quarter, this time forcing the Bears to kick a field goal.

Van Jefferson for 14 yards

I had mentioned on Monday that the Rams weren’t leaning on their rookies much over the first six games and that Cam Akers and Van Jefferson had seen their playing time almost completely evaporate in the previous two games. It’s not concerning, it was only a note. Something to consider. Now consider this: Van Jefferson made a great catch early in the game to keep the Rams offense moving down the field towards a touchdown. He was not targeted again but he’s earning some attention.

Goff to Reynolds for 18 on third and 11

Goff to Reynolds for 9 on third and 1

These are the plays an offense needs to make if they want to go from defenses considering them as “good” to defenses considering them as “frustrating.”

Jalen Ramsey stop on third down

Because Chicago had a false start on their fourth down attempt, the Bears punted on the next play. But if it weren’t for the false start, the Rams actually would have stopped Nick Foles and gotten the ball deep in Chicago territory. So... bad?!

Johnny Mundt for 34 yards

Mundt came into the game tonight with 36 yards over 31 career games.

Johnny Hekker for even more yards

Having an elite punter is underrated.

Greg Gaines and Aaron Donald share sack

Leonard Floyd prefers to work alone

Donald was at eight sacks on the season after this play. Floyd had a sack on third and 10 on the following play because Bobby Massie didn’t much get in his way.

The Aaron Donald fear at the goal line

The Malcolm Brown push to the goal line

Brown earned his way from first getting hit at the nine to eventually winding up at the one. McVay rewarded him with a first and Goal run to score his third touchdown of the season but his first since Week 1.

Troy Hill causes an interception in the end zone

On Monday night it was clear as Monday day just why McVay may trust Troy Hill more than Darious Williams. Two plays after a defensive pass interference penalty on Williams for not getting his head around, Hill does get his head around and tips a pass intended for Darnell Mooney to be intercepted by Taylor Rapp. This may have taken seven points off the board but with Nick Foles at quarterback, it may have only taken off three. In either case, it was Hill helping Rapp take away the ball.

Robert Woods end around for 25 yards

These plays usually work well but this one was especially productive as it was Woods’ longest run of the season by 10 yards. It was his first run of the month to gain more than seven yards. Then he had another run later that winds up in the second section of this article.

Jared Goff to Gerald Everett for his second touchdown

Goff is the first Rams quarterback since Marc Bulger in 2006 to throw multiple touchdown passes against the Bears.

4th and 1 stop by Terrell Lewis

It was a symphony of highlight plays by Rams rookies and I found that to be exciting.

Jalen Ramsey interception

Ramsey and Donald are both playing at a first team all-pro level. Which feels as “to be expected” but it really shouldn’t be that easy. However, both are in the conversation for Defensive Player of the Year right now.

The Bad

Injury to Terrell Burgess

Heartbreaking.

Robert Woods fumble

No points on the first drive

For two straight games now the Rams have failed to make a dent on their opening drive. This is perhaps expected after they had been so successful in that area over the first five weeks.

Jared Goff’s wild pass to Malcolm Brown on second and 4

This was not Goff’s only inaccurate pass of the Rams opening drive. It may have been his third at that point. LA was unable to convert on third down, losing yardage on a pass behind the line of scrimmage to Gerald Everett. That play is a rare indictment on McVay’s playcalling this season.

This trend continued with Goff throughout the first half even though he also mixed in some of his best individual plays of the season. Goff had passes that could have been intercepted, but luckily were not and the Rams only had 10 points at halftime.

Jared Goff not getting protected by the refs

Similarly, it was upsetting that Jalen Ramsey made a perfect stop on third down — underrated: a hard hit that was also legal — but McVay had to throw a challenge flag to confirm it. LA wasn’t getting the calls at home.

Tyler Higbee inactive

Despite some speculation that Higbee’s questionable designation was not worrisome, Higbee was inactive and that increased snaps for Mundt.

First half offense

As mentioned earlier, the offense had good moments but didn’t get the job done often enough on their drives in the first half. Goff was 14 of 22 for only 140 yards and while some positive moments happened, ultimately Los Angeles couldn’t get points unless they started at midfield. The offense lacked explosiveness and Kupp, Woods were held to two catches and under 20 yards in the first half.

There were questionable moments involving both coaching and execution.

Darious Williams pass interference puts Bears at the LA 15

I’m not saying that Williams had a bad night. He had a good night. This play did not work for him.

Sam Sloman probably made his final kick attempt this season

Sloman had another kick attempt blocked this week and Kai Forbath is in the building, awaiting his turn next week.

The Difference

Both of these teams were getting questioned about their record. The Rams because they had only beaten the NFC East and the Bears because they feature a low-scoring offense in a high-scoring world. But Chicago was coming off of wins against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Carolina Panthers and had only surrendered four touchdown passes in six games.

Ultimately though, is anybody surprised that the Bears scored 10 points and that the only touchdown came from the defense? As good as Chicago is on defense, that’s how bad they are on offense. The Bears had been 5-0 when they forced a turnover but it was hard for them to make tonight’s turnover matter given the score, time remaining and Foles’ inability to lead the offense on touchdown drives.

The difference on Monday night was nothing more complicated than a top-three pass defense featuring Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey suffocating Chicago’s poorly-ranked passing offense. By yards per attempt, this was the NFL’s number two pass defense vs the number 31 passing offense.

Foles averaged 6.5 yards per attempt, which actually improves his season average. But there were some empty fourth quarter yards and the Bears were rarely an actual threat to score. The Rams have been building something special on defense.