Finally punished for their flaws, Bears lose 24-10 to Rams

In a debacle that was by no means as close as the score, they were finally beaten, to paraphrase coach Matt Nagy, for being themselves: a team with a good, sometimes-great defense that can never be perfect enough to carry an offense with all the rhythm of a high school reunion dance floor after the open bar has closed.

SHARE Finally punished for their flaws, Bears lose 24-10 to Rams
The Rams break up a pass intended for Bears receiver Darnell Mooney on Monday night.

The Rams break up a pass intended for Bears receiver Darnell Mooney on Monday night.

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

INGLEWOOD, Calif. — The Bears walked into SoFi Stadium on Monday knowing they could leave the NFL’s latest monument to big-city excess with the best record in the NFC.

With it would come the respect that had eluded them after they won five of their first six games, when in reality they were maybe a half-dozen plays — a Lions end-zone drop, a Falcons missed field goal, Tom Brady being unable to count to four — from being 1-5.

This was their chance — on “Monday Night Football” against the Rams, the matchup that was their bellwether the previous two seasons.

In a 24-10 debacle that was by no means as close as the score, they were finally beaten, to paraphrase coach Matt Nagy, for being themselves: a team with a good, sometimes-great defense that can never be perfect enough to carry an offense with all the rhythm of a high school reunion dance floor after the open bar has closed.

And they have a coach who still hasn’t fixed what has been a persistent problem since he took over 2½ years ago: a running game that can’t keep opposing defenses honest.

“The ‘why’ part, that’s the part that stings,” Nagy said of the offense. “Just trying to get that thing right. It hasn’t happened.”

When Jared Goff threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to tight end Gerald Everett to go up 24-3 with about 90 seconds left in the third quarter, the Rams officially lapped the Bears in yards — putting up 360 to their 175.

At that moment, the Rams averaged 7.5 yards per rush, a stat that would have been unthinkable against the stout Bears defenses of 2018 or 2019.

The Bears’ own running game, at that moment, was averaging 3.3. It finished averaging 2.9, with David Montgomery carrying 14 times for 48 yards. Center Cody Whitehair left with a calf injury.

“You gotta be able to run the ball,” Nagy said. “We’re trying to figure out ways to do it.”

Somehow, the game felt even worse than the stark numbers.

Despite spending the previous two nights on the West Coast to get acclimated to the time change, the Bears were listless, as if their heads were in a fog — or, more aptly, smog.

They made the following mistakes:

• Down 17-3 in the third quarter, quarterback Nick Foles threw an interception in the end zone when Troy Hill batted the ball with the back of his hand into the arms of safety Taylor Rapp. Foles went 28-for-40 for 261 yards and threw two picks. His 66.8 passer rating was the worst of his Bears tenure.

† In the second quarter, left guard Rashaad Coward had a false start on fourth-and-inches, turning a conversion on a quarterback sneak into a punt. The Rams turned that gifted possession into a field goal.

• In the third quarter, defensive lineman Akiem Hicks was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for jumping on top of a pile after Rams running back Malcolm Brown dragged half the Bears’ defense to the 1. He scored on the next play.

•Three minutes into the second half, Ted Ginn, a 14-year veteran, chose to let a punt bounce rather than catch it — and it was downed at the 1. The Bears couldn’t get past the 5, punted and eventually watched Brown run for the touchdown. In the fourth quarter, Ginn let punts bounce at the 6, then the 5.

•Nagy went into halftime with a timeout still in his pocket — and down 10-3 — when he could have had the Rams punt with about 20 seconds to play.

• Nagy called a toss for running back Cordarrelle Patterson on fourth-and-one late in the third quarter. The play, which worked earlier this season in a similar circumstance, lost two yards.

But the Bears are still 5-2 and on pace for the playoffs. Nagy will certainly choose to reinforce that to his team. He’ll point to safety Eddie Jackson finally getting his touchdown — an eight-yard fumble return with 7:30 to play — as progress.

Nagy, though, seemed in no mood.

“Stating the obvious, the offense, we gotta get stuff figured out,” Nagy said. “To be outscored by your defense is unacceptable, too.”

If the Bears look the same Sunday against the Saints or the next week against the Titans, they could prove to be the frauds some already suspect them to be.

The Latest
Pet owners beware; the flea population in the Chicago area will be higher this summer, according to the Companion Animal Parasite Council.
The Cubs radio analyst, a Southwest Side son, spent a day reliving his past — and the emotions came flooding back.
At least nine people died nationwide and an estimated 11,500 were injured last year in accidents involving fireworks, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Local 150 of the International Union of Operating Engineers has been off the job since June 7 and no talks are scheduled.
A team spokesperson said the franchise stuck with White, who is now the voice of LIV Golf, because they felt it wasn’t appropriate to judge where he chose to work outside the club.