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‘We wanted to show the world what we got’: Bears’ ‘D’ reaches new level vs. Rams

The Bears’ defense has been good most of the season, and exceptional on occasion. But in the biggest game of the season, on the biggest stage, with a chance to show what they’re all about, it reached another level Sunday night.

“We wanted to show the world what we got,” linebacker Leonard Floyd said after the defense throttled Todd Gurley, Jared Goff and the high-scoring Rams’ offense in a 15-6 victory at Soldier Field. “We wanted to show the world that we’re a great team and nobody should want to play us.”

If the Bears can maintain the emotional level they played at from start to finish Sunday night, they certainly will be a team to be feared.

“We just came out and executed tonight,” linebacker Floyd said. “Everybody played like their hair was on fire and it showed on the field.”

Bears linebacker Khalil Mack (52) pressures Rams quarterback Jared Goff (16) in the Bears' 15-6 victory Sunday at Soldier Field. | David Banks/AP photo.

Bears linebacker Khalil Mack (52) pressures Rams quarterback Jared Goff (16) in the Bears' 15-6 victory Sunday at Soldier Field. | David Banks/AP photo.

The numbers tell the story: The Bears held Gurley to 28 yards on 11 carries (2.5 avg.) — his worst performance of the season. They intercepted Goff four times and held him to 180 yards passing and a 19.1 passer rating — his worst performance of the season. They held the Rams to 214 total yards and 3.5 yards per carry — their worst performances of the season.

“It was a dominant performance,” said defensive end Akiem Hicks. “It was a big game for us because it was a really good team coming into our field, and [coach Matt] Nagy has preached to us all year about protecting our field. And I think that’s what we’ve done this year.”

The Bears did that from the start and never let up. Khalil Mack pressured Goff into a third-down incompletion for a three-and-out on the Rams’ first possession that set the tone. And it snowballed from there.

In the second quarter, Jonathan Bullard pressured Rams tackle Andrew Whitworth into Goff, who threw an off-balance pass that Roquan Smith intercepted and returned to the Rams 4. That led to a Cody Parkey 31-yard field goal that gave the Bears a 6-3 lead.

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But after holding the Rams to 98 yards in the first half — they came in averaging 220.3 yards in the first two quarters — the Bears turned it up a notch in the third quarter.

On first-and-10 at the Rams 13 following a penalty on the second-half kickoff, Gurley was tackled for a five-yard loss. On second-and-15 from the 8, Eddie Goldman bulled past center John Sullivan to sack Goff in the end zone for a safety that gave the Bears a 8-6 lead.

“It was a huge swing to get us back going the right direction, even though we weren’t too far off,” Hicks said. “We knew we needed to play just a little bit better.”

Hicks was also in on that play, but it was a sack Goldman deserved.

“Our nose guard works so hard just in the scheme of our defense that you gotta almost give that to him,” Hicks said. “Because he had to work through two or three people just to get there. So all kudos to Eddie Goldman. He is an unsung hero of this defense and doesn’t get enough credit.”

The Bears kept on going and never gave the Rams a chance to mount a response. It was exactly the type of game they needed after faltering in the second half in a loss to the Giants last week.

“I couldn’t say that we broke their spirit because they were fighting to the end,” Hicks said. “They’re a very good team.  And they’re gong to be the Rams tomorrow, right? And still going to be a really good team in the playoffs probably. But what I’ll say is: We just had it tonight. We had a lot of heart. We had a lot of focus and we pulled it out.”