There are many plays to choose from when looking for the “moment of the game” in the LA Rams’ 34-14 win over the Chicago Bears in Week 1. Whether you wanted to aim early, the 67-yard touchdown to Van Jefferson on the opening drive is a great candidate. It set the tone for the game — and maybe the season.
You could choose David Long’s interception in the end zone.
You could look to Cooper Kupp’s two forced missed tackles that led to a second half first down.
Or Robert Woods putting the game out of reach with his toe-tapping score late in the game.
But I find a more nuanced approach to work well when you have so many obvious highlights to choose from. Instead, I’m going to go with a routine incomplete pass that adequately sums up how the Rams beat the Bears so handedly.
Though Andy Dalton was completing a high percentage of passes through three quarters, it seemed obvious that Chicago’s offensive gameplan was to avoid LA’s pass rush as much as possible by calling quick passes and short throws that are high-percentage and low reward. The Bears could hope to score 21 or 24 points by completing third downs and successfully gaining yards on the ground with David Montgomery, but that plan fell apart even though David Montgomery was exceptional on his opportunities.
The Rams were able to keep the Bears out of the end zone on their first four drives, including an interception, a turnover on downs, a lost fumble, and a punt, before allowing a 55-yard touchdown drive late in the first half.
Chicago then scored on a 16-play, 81-yard drive on their next possession, which also resulted in a touchdown. On back-to-back drives, the Dalton plan (with a sprinkle of Justin Fields) was working. Unfortunately for the Bears, that plan also only works if you hold the Rams to under 20 points ... and that wasn’t happening.
LA did take a 27-14 lead after Chicago’s second touchdown but Dalton could still keep the score close enough with one more touchdown drive.
That’s when I think the moment of the game happened.
The Bears went from their own 21 to first-and-10 at LA’s 25 with just under 12:00 minutes remaining in the game. But then “Dalton” struck and Justin Hollins sacked the quarterback for a loss of 15. That there could be the play of the game, but maybe the best moment was a couple of plays later.
Following an incomplete pass and a 10-yard gain, Bears head coach Matt Nagy opted to go for it rather than to kick a field goal and cut the lead at that point to 10. However, the playcall and execution summed up Dalton’s night perfectly.
Needing 15 yards for a first down, Dalton threw it about 13 yards, and Robert Rochell knocked it away anyhow.
Robert Rochell is Darnell Mooney’s father pic.twitter.com/zkftlUtVxa— αηтнσηу кυякαℓ (@Veins_On_Ice) September 13, 2021
The Rams then drove 70 yards and scored that Woods touchdown to go up 34-14.
Rams win and that’s a moment that helps sum up, in a number of different ways, why. Because it’s not just what Chicago couldn’t do at quarterback that caused them to lose — it’s also what the LA Rams can do with their quarterback now that they have a new one who the Bears would’ve love to acquire for themselves.
They didn’t and the Rams won.