In a matchup featuring two of the league's top defenses, the Los Angeles Rams stood strong, while the Chicago Bears were simply worn down. Aaron Donald, Jalen Ramsey and the Rams D held the Bears in check and Jared Goff and the L.A. offense eventually took over. It added up to a most impressive 24-10 Rams win over the Bears on Monday Night Football.
1) Two top-seven defenses clashed upon a Monday evening. It wasn't always pretty and this type of football seldom is. This was well-played, hard-hitting defense -- until the Rams just wore down the Bears and took over. Two seasons ago when these franchises met in the regular season, it was the Bears' dominant defense that grounded the Rams' high-flying offense. While the Bears D is still strong, it is not the monstrous entity it was then, and now, more than ever, the Rams have become a team led by their defense. That shined through in a commanding and emphatic Los Angeles victory over an overmatched Chicago squad. Jalen Ramsey had one of his team's two interceptions and turned in a physically dominant outing, while Aaron Donald was his usual phenomenal self. They led and the defense was tremendous overall, holding the Bears to no offensive touchdowns, tallying four sacks (including two from former Bear Leonard Floyd) and allowing less than 300 total yards. Chicago's offense looked as troubled as advertised, but it was magnified when facing such a stellar defensive unit. These aren't the Rams (5-2) that went to the Super Bowl, they are a different team in makeup and approach. But, just the same, L.A. is back among the NFC's top teams.
2) Through six weeks, the Bears were that team. They were winning, but there were far more doubters than believers when it came to the record and what lied ahead at season's end. They found a way to win, they found a way to 5-1, their defense not as ferocious as it had been, but still leading the way. The offense was bumbling about, but the wins were coming and so too would the improvement. Regardless of how it came to be, Chicago was in first place in the NFC North. And then, under the bright microscope of prime time they were exposed. Against an offense that can figure out how to score just enough points, the Bears defense can no longer win on its own. And against a good defense such as the Rams possess, simply replacing Mitchell Trubisky with Nick Foles didn't conjure up newfound success. Regardless of their record, the Bears (5-2) have problems aplenty and simply biding time until the offense improves and comes together isn't going to work. That was evident for all the NFL world to see on Monday night.
3) In many ways, it was a seven-play, 55-yard drive that took only two minutes, 21 seconds that took the soul of the Bears defense. Eddie Jackson was hurt on a non-contact play. And then Malcom Brown pushed the Bears defense for 12 yards to the Chicago 1, pushing the pile and a host of Chicago defenders, damning their hopes along the way. On the ensuing play, Brown plowed through a defender on his way to an emphatic six points that led to a 17-3 lead midway through the third that might as well have been 50 points with the way this game was playing out. Jackson came back and scored a TD for the Bears and there was at least a flirtation that something could happen, but not really. This was the Rams' night in a variety of ways. The Bears defense hung tough for so long with its offense doing nothing in return. And on this drive, Brown pulverized them and let it be known that a victory was L.A.'s -- even with more than a quarter to play.
4) Not that long ago, Sean McVay was the new offensive genius on the block. And then in the instance that is an NFL season, the shine wore dim. While neither the numbers, the pomp nor the circumstance remain, McVay's creativity is still alive and well. Needing to rebound after a loss to the 49ers and up against a very good Bears defense on Monday, Jared Goff was efficient, hitting on 23 of 33 passes for 219 yards and two TDs. Goff completed passes to seven receivers. Five Rams had carries. The offense was in motion at a dizzying pace, balanced to the tune of more than 150 yards on the ground and greater than 200 through the air. There is a new identity with this Rams squad and it's that of the defense. But McVay is still finding ways for his offense to succeed and though it's not this entity of revelry and wonder that captured our imagination a few seasons ago, the Rams were the 10th-ranked total offense coming in and did very well against a formidable defensive opponent. McVay's still one of the league's brighter offensive minds, even if he's not being showered with the praise he once was.
5) Before this game dissolved into a Rams blowout, it was a back-and-forth defensive slobber-knocker in which field position was of the utmost consequence. And despite the lopsided outcome, each team's punters were tremendous. Bears booter Pat O'Donnell averaged a solid 47.6 yards over five punts with two inside the 20. But Johnny Hekker snatched the spotlight as punters so seldom do. Hekker's five punts all took residence at or inside the opposing 10, including one that set the Bears up on their 1-yard line. And another -- just after the Bears cut the score to 24-10 -- that he boomed 63 yards to the 6. Hekker's one of the few punters in the league that you get the feeling is really a part of the squad, one of its personalities. And on Monday he played a pivotal role as a tight game morphed into a one-sided one.
6) In the aftermath of a rookie season marked by struggle, David Montgomery proclaimed ahead of his second season that it would be one of vast improvement and production. As the offense's struggles continue and the quarterback position is always at the center of it, it's time to face the reality that the running back position -- a fabled one at that for the Bears -- is lacking. Montgomery entered Monday having rushed for less than 60 yards in four straight games (spoiler alert: it's five now) and averaging 3.7 yards per carry on the year, exactly what he did in 2019. When the first half ended, the Bears had just 20 yards on the ground, 19 from Montgomery on seven carries. When the night ended, the Bears had just 49 yards on the ground, 48 from Montgomery on 14 carries. Right now, the Bears are running nowhere.
7) Bears rookie tight end Cole Kmet made a great grab on a 50-50 fling from Foles to oh-so briefly wake the Bears' offense from its hibernation in the first half. It came following the Rams' opening score and the 38-yard gain looked as though it might ignite something. It didn't. Instead, it serves as a glimmer for the Bears on a night in which highlights were very few. For a team that didn't have a first-round pick in 2020, cornerback Jaylon Johnson is having a terrific first season and Kmet is rounding into form. On a night in which there was nothing much to get excited about for the Bears, there's something to look forward to with a pair of second-round rookies.