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Bears Fall To Rams 42-21

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Nov 25, 2013 4:40PM

The Bears may have a winning record but it was the St. Louis Rams who played like playoff contenders on Sunday. St. Louis scored two touchdowns in the game's first three minutes and also two touchdowns in the game's final three minutes. In between, mistakes and penalties cost the Bears opportunities to get themselves back into the game, which they lost 42-21.

St. Louis jumped out to a 7-0 lead when, on the third play from scrimmage Tavon Austin took a pitch, faked a reverse and ran 65 yards for the score. On the Bears' ensuing possession, running back Matt Forte lost a fumble deep in Bears' territory and the Rams quickly converted the turnover into another touchdown, staking St. Louis an early 14-0 lead. With backup quarterback Josh McCown again under center in place of Jay Cutler, the Bears offense marched 90 yards down field to score a touchdown of their own, capped by Martellus Bennett's 7-yard grab. St. Louis, fielding backup quarterback Kellen Clemens on Sunday, also drove downfield and took a 21-7 lead before the first quarter expired.

Penalties had a huge impact on the Bears first drive of the second quarter, negating a 27 end-around by Alshon Jeffrey, canceling a Josh McCown interception (that one was on the Rams), pushing the Bears back 15 yards after a personal foul on Kyle Long and wiping a 13-yard Matt Forte touchdown off the board before McCown connected with Brandon Marshall for a TD that cut the Bears' deficit to 21-14. St. Louis countered with a field goal to extend their lead to ten and the Bears chose to run out the final minute-plus of the half to hit the locker room down 24-14.

On the Bears' opening drive of the third quarter, they drove all the way down to the Rams' one-yard line, but coach Marc Trestman decided to go for the TD on fourth-and-goal and the Rams stopped Michael Bush for a loss, which resulted in the Bears coming away with no points at the end of an almost seven minute drive. St. Louis added three points on another field goal to extend their lead to 13.

Early in the final period, Devin Hester appeared to return a punt back 62 yards for a touchdown—which would have given him the NFL record for return TDs—yet another penalty by the Bears negated the score. After running half of the quarter's clock the Bears did eventually score a touchdown on the drive, aided by three Rams penalties. The Bears needed eight plays before finally scoring from the one-yard line on a Michael Bush run. A penalty nullified what would have been Martellus Bennett's second TD catch of the day, while a Matt Forte run was overruled by officials.

With the Bears down just six and over seven minutes left to play, they technically remained in the game but were unable to stop St. Louis running back Benny Cunningham who gained 61 of the Rams' 80 yards on the Rams' ensuing drive and scored a touchdown for an insurmountable 33-21 lead. The Rams converted a two-point attempt to extend their lead to 35-14 and capped their scoring moments later when Josh McCown was sacked, fumbled and Robert Quinn return the ball 31 yards for a defensive TD.

While McCown was again more than capable to run the offense, it was not enough to overcome the poor defensive play and sloppy penalties. McCown completed a team-record 36 passes in 47 attempts for 352 yards and two TDs. While he did endure his first two turnovers of the season on Sunday, the fumble returned for a TD and an interception were both in the waning seconds of the game after it was out of reach. Brandon Marshall was again McCown's top target, catching 10 passes including one in the endzone for 117 yards. Tight end Martellus Bennett caught four passes for 62 yards and a TD while Earl Bennett snagged a season-high eight passes for 58 yards. Alshon Jeffrey and Matt Forte also eclipsed 40 yards through the air. Forte added 77 yards on the ground, although he had that costly first quarter fumble. Michael Bush ran for negative yards on the day and was stopped in a number of critical short yard situations.

While the Bears offense put up a respectable 424 yards of total offense, they allowed 406—including a whopping 258 on the ground. Most of the Rams' rushing yardage came via two rookies. Zac Stacy gained 87 yards on 12 carries before leaving the game in the second quarter. His backup, undrafted rookie Cunningham, pounded the Bears for 109 yards on 13 carries. The awful performance against the run on Sunday dropped the Bears to dead last in the NFL in run defense, allowing 145.2 yards per game. And next weekend they face Adrian Peterson, the reigning NFL MVP.

Penalties also killed the Bears in every way, provided excellent field position to the Rams, stalled drives and took no less than three touchdowns off the board. The undisciplined play and sloppy defense resulted in the Bears wasting an ideal opportunity to gain possession of first place in the NFC North. Instead they remain tied with the Detroit Lions at 6-5 after Detroit fell to Tampa Bay. With mediocre play throughout the NFC North, it's unlikely the division will send a Wild Card representative to the playoffs. The Bears may have suffered a mortal wound to their postseason hopes since Detroit holds the tiebreaker against them in division play. Still, they have to shoot for the division title and could start with a trip to division rivals Minnesota next Sunday. The Vikings and Green Bay played to a tie Sunday..