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The Rams looked cold—and not just in their play—in their 15-6 loss in Chicago on Sunday night. They acted like they were playing football in some icy scene from Game of Thrones. They looked miserable.
And at 26 degrees entering the fourth quarter, it wasn’t even that cold by Chicago standards. That’s bikini weather for them.
But the Rams, and especially quarterback Jared Goff, looked totally off their game offensively. And the weather was clearly part of the reason.
No, this was not a game in which the blueprint was revealed, a team’s fatal flaw exposed. Mostly it was just the result of a team that looked cold and played cold.
While there may be no singular way to solve the Rams, that Bears defense proved something Sunday. It proved it can be a vicious nemesis. It proved it will be a problem no matter what team it plays or where it plays. Los Angeles. New Orleans. Topeka. Or the damn moon.
That defense proved it will make the Bears one of the toughest outs in football once the playoffs begin.
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That was the lesson Sunday: That Bears defense is a problem, for every team, including the vaunted Rams, who scored 54 points against the Chiefs just a few weeks ago (in cozy Los Angeles).
While many of us (rightfully so) have focused on the Rams, Chiefs and Saints this season—the high-powered offenses that are in many ways the league’s new prototype—the Bears have shown they might just have enough firepower on defense to stop the high-scoring offenses.
They are one of the few teams who make defense sexy again.
Go ahead and take Patrick Mahomes, Drew Brees and Goff. The Bears will counter with Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks, Eddie Jackson and Roquan Smith.
It’s not the best defense we’ve ever seen, but it’s dominant enough. It’s so good it can buoy the Bears even when Mitch Trubisky plays like Mitch Cutler, as he did Sunday, throwing three picks.
No, there was no blueprint, because the Rams won’t play like this at home in the postseason. This was, however, a shot across the bow of the Rams. Oh, you guys think you have some sort of badass offense? How does this punch in the mouth feel? And this one. And this one. Oh, you want another one? Well, here you go, L.A. boys.
The Rams entered this game averaging over 400 yards of offense. But they had just 98 in the first half against Chicago. NBC reported on the air that was tied for fewest yards in a half under coach Sean McVay. “This was a humbling night,” McVay said after they finished with 214 total yards.
One of the most memorable sights in the game was Goff looking uncomfortable, huffing the cold air, looking totally shook. He seemed nervous all night and never had a clean pocket to get his legs under him in.
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Goff looked like the Jeff Fisher-coached Goff. His 180 passing yards, four interceptions and 45 percent completion rate were season worsts. He hadn’t thrown more than two interceptions in a game before this one.
The only good news for the Rams was that their defense looked good as well. But the Rams aren’t about their defense. They are an offensive juggernaut, and the Bears dramatically slowed them.
It was stunning to see just how much the team stuffed Todd Gurley. He had just 28 yards on 11 carries and three catches for 30 yards. It’s not just that we’ve rarely seen Gurley this ineffective. It’s that almost nothing was there. No running lanes. No receiving opportunities. Like every other aspect of the Rams offense, he was blanketed.
At the end of the game, NBC’s Michele Tafoya asked Hicks how the Bears were able to keep the Rams out of the end zone.
Hicks growled. Not at Tafoya (that would be weird) but at the prospect of playing a great offense.
There is no Rams blueprint. Just one cold game, and a Bears defense showing it can stop anyone.
Even the Rams.
Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @mikefreemanNFL.