The Chicago Bears had possession of the football eleven more minutes than the Los Angeles Rams on their Sunday night opener. That fact just indicated how inefficient Chicago was in their 34-14 loss at SoFI Stadium for the 2021 NFL season’s first contest. Two miscues in the defensive secondary proved costly.
The Bears had an interception, a turnover on downs, then a fumble and a punt before finally putting the ball in the end zone.
Dalton, speaking about the interception said, “I was going to Darrell Mooney. Unfortunately It got tipped. When balls get tipped in this league, more times than not, (they) end up in the other team’s hands. It was a really good drive for us. I thought we set the tone early how we wanted to play, but unfortunately, we weren’t able to finish that one.”
Meanwhile the Rams took three plays to score their first touchdown, a 67-yard strike from newly arrived Matthew Stafford to Van Jefferson, a play in which both Bears defenders failed to make contact with the LA wide receiver, who promptly got up and ran untouched into the end zone.
Rams coach Sean McVay, “We only had twenty plays in the first half. We were able to get some explosives. What a play by Van Jefferson. To be able to get up, have the awareness to finish that. In the second half, I thought we got a little continuity. I think one of the best plays of the game was Robert Woods’ third down catch on the first drive of the second half. A third and long we hit him on a deep end breaking route. Does great job with aggressive hands and then Kupp on the next play. I was encourage to get the run game going a little bit. We can certainly build on this. Matthew did a great job leading the way offensively.”
Matthew Stafford, acquired from Detroit in a trade that sent Jared Goff to the Motor City, also hit Cooper Kupp on a 56-yard strike early in the third quarter. Stafford, sporting a happy face t-shirt in the postgame press conference was asked about his Rams debut, he noted, “a lot of anticipation for this game. For me, it’s a new experience. A New place, new stadium, new fans, a whole new deal .This team has embraced me, and I really appreciative that. I’ve done everything I can to try to work as hard as I can and get myself in this team. They wrapped their arms around me. It felt good to go out and play with them tonight. Such incredible players on this team, I’m lucky to be a part of it.”
About the only positive for Chicago was the debut of heralded 2021 first round pick Justin Fields. He got in on a few snaps including a three-yard run for the Bears’ first score. Starting QB Andy Dalton had a challenging day battling the vaunted Rams defense going 27/38 for 206 yards and an interception. Start defensive lineman Aaron Donald and the rest of the Rams front line spent a lot of time in the Chicago backfield.
Fields described his first NFL score as, “just a regular read option. Basically reading the end, he froze a little bit, and I thought I could beat him around the edge, so I just tried to get the ball in the end zone.”
Chicago may have had a glimmer of hope when they pulled to within six points at 4:14 in the third quarter. However, the Rams roared back to score just before the end of the third on a Darrell Henderson one yard run. They followed that up with a short scoring pass to Robert Woods to seal the game.
Matt Nagy stated afterwards, “at the end there, being able to not stop them, and then not score offensive. That’s where it got away, When you become one-dimensional against this team, look out, because they’re pretty good at what they do, and that’s where they tee off on you.”
Once we got behind and we got three-dimensional, that was a little more difficult.”– Matt Nagy
Nagy also added, “They know that we can play better. It’s not about overreacting.You have to give a lot of credit to Sean McVay. They got good players and they are well coached. I have nothing but respect for them.”
Apart from Fields getting his first foray into the end zone, was the running of David Montgomery, who finished with 108 yards rushing and a touchdown. He commented, “I was just going with the flow of the game. I got opportunities, and when I did , I was trying to be sure that I extended those, but it really was everybody around me. The whole night was pushing and creating massive lanes, as well as wide receivers helping me a lot too.”
The big picture for us is, OK, we have a big run to start the game. We have a forty-one yard run. You get down there – the tempo is going, you’re good to go, and then, boom, penalty. Now you look up, and you don’t even get three points . They get the ball. That’s where we have to grow. We also talked about this is going to be a slug fest.”
One of Nagy’s other goals was to get Justin comfortable with his few plays. He also wanted Dalton to not loose his rhythm as the staff inserts Justin into the game flow.
It felt great. Finally getting out there. Getting, I guess some real NFL action, with the starters and stuff like that. It wasn’t weird, me running in and out, just because this past week we were practicing that.-Justin Fields
The performance of the Bears is not going to leave Bear Nation encouraged. They struggled in the red zone. They were poor on defense, and had no answer for the Rams pass rush.
Next up for Chicago. The Cincinnati Bengals, fresh off a home win in overtime against the Vikes, while the Rams travel to Indianapolis next Sunday.