CHICAGO – It’s very easy to make an argument that the Bears are the best team in the NFC North. After all, they’ve led the division most of the season and have already beaten the second-place Vikings in November.
But the question that many have about this particular group is how close are they to being one of the best in the NFL?
Sunday figured to be a good barometer of that as perhaps the best team in the league came to town.
The Rams entered with an 11-1 record, in competition for home field advantage for the NFC playoffs. Their offense is second in the NFL and their defense featured a possible candidate for league MVP, and they haven’t lost in the last three weeks.
Over the course of four quarters, especially their defense, proved the Bears belong in at least the conversation for one of the best in the league. Vic Fangio’s punishing defensive unit stymied Los Angeles over the course of four quarters, grounding stars like Jared Goff and Todd Gurley with a strong rush up front.
While their offense had its issues, and Mitchell Trubisky had some interception issues in his return to the lineup, the defense’s strong play held up in a 15-6 Bears’ victory over the Rams that helped show those around the league that they belong.
Matt Nagy’s group improves to 9-4 on the season, the most victories by the team since the 2012 season, and creeps them ever closer to that elusive playoff spot.
Their defense took the center stage as they held the Rams to a season-low six points and just 214 total yards. Goff was picked off four times by the Bears defense while Gurley gained just 28 yards on 11 carries.
Trubisky threw three picks himself in his return to the lineup after missing two games with a shoulder injury. He was 16-of-30 for 110 yards with one touchdown pass to offensive lineman Bradley Sowell, while Jordan Howard rushed for a season-high 101 yards.
Fangio’s unit had to come through big for the Bears immediately as Trubisky’s overthrown pass was intercepted by Marcus Peters on the opening drive and returned to the Chicago 15-yard line. The Rams could only gain six yards, forcing them to settle for a Greg Zuerlein field goal to make it 3-0. The Bears responded with a 54-yard field goal drive of their own, continuing what would be a give-and-take first half.
Aided by pressure from Jonathan Bullard, Roquan Smith intercepted the first pass of his career and returned it to the Los Angeles’ four-yard line. A bad offensive series forced them to settle for another Parkey field goal to make it 6-3. The Rams responded with a 43-yard drive, which was aided heavily by a well-executed fake punt, yet they could only get a 50-yard Zuerlein field goal to tie the game.
Each team would pick off a pass before the end of the half to send the game to halftime even.
Then the Bears’ defense went to work, putting the team in the lead as Eddie Goldman sacked Goff in the endzone for the safety to make it 8-6. Trubisky put together the best drive of the day to follow, going 81-yards downfield and finishing it with a trick play touchdown to Sowell to make it 15-6.
That was plenty for the Bears’ defense, who would pick off two more passes down the stretch to complete their most dominant showing of the 2018 season.