Ram’s defense bowed down. Bear’s defense broke down.
You know who wins when this happens.
On an opening night that couldn’t have been a more peaceful routine, Ram showed that he focused off-season only on fixing things that had fallen apart.
And even if last year’s defense fell out of answer during the Rams’ exit loss at Green Bay, it could still strain teams that have offensive uncertainty, which is most of them.
The Rams converted a six-point lead at halftime into a 34-14 win. He got Matthew Stafford to put the drone strike back on offense, and he did Van Jefferson and Cooper Kupp on touchdowns. Even with Sonny Mitchell on the roster, he didn’t run the ball much at first, but then he used Mitchell and Darrell Henderson to close the show against the Chicago pass runners.
The offense had the ball nine times, scored six times, punted once, ran out of time twice and never backed down. It’s known to the Rams as “complimentary football,” which has nothing to do with saying nice things about your teammates’ musical tastes and everything to do with gear mashing.
Reluctant to let Stafford light up the skies, Chicago coach Matt Nagy decided to go for it three times in the fourth down. He wound up with a fumble and two stoppages, and the Bears only scored twice, even though they had the ball for 35:14 and picked up 24 first downs.
Linebacker Justin Hollins forced a fumble, and Jalen Ramsey broke a fourth-down pass to Alan Robinson. Richard Rochelle, a rookie from Central Arkansas, made a Scottie Pippen-style jump to break a fourth-down pass in the fourth quarter.
While Rams receivers were playing for 67, 58 and 37 yards, Andy Dalton’s long finish for the Bears was only 19 yards.
For Rams coach Sean McVay, the long and slow drive is every bit as annoying as trying to figure out how to put on a fitted sheet. He acknowledged as last January when it was time to trade Jared Goff to Detroit for Stafford, who rarely had the luxury of front-running with the Lions.
The Goffs Lions fell behind San Francisco, 38-10, on Sunday and then made a frantic move to only lose 41-33. Memes has rarely been competitive against the 49ers, but Goff had to throw 57 times to get to this point. Stafford is familiar with that type of tension. He was 20-26-26 on a Sunday night and was once sacked, a world he is not accustomed to but would like to be.
The Rams may not have wreaked havoc under old coordinator Brandon Staley at times, but new boss Raheem Morris stood guard against the big play and tried to play rope-a-dope. He might not do this every week, but it worked here.
If the Rams see any concern in the film, it would be David Montgomery’s 41-yard run in possession of the Bears first and then a generally dominant run, and also the fact that Dalton is expected to look like a viable NFL quarterback. was allowed. That early drive died when Kenny Young deflected a pass intercepted by David Long, but Dalton was 3-for-3 on the subsequent drive and warmed his way to the 1-yard-line, from where Montgomery scored.
The second touchdown came on a drive that looked like a tractor-trailer trying to measure a grapevine. Chicago took nine minutes and 38 seconds to cover 81 yards in 19 plays, but the Bears converted all three third-down positions and ended it with a scoring run by rookie QB Justin Fields.
Fields is the future in Chicago, but Dalton, the longtime Cincinnati quarterback, is their drivers’ education coach. It might surprise you that Chicago fans and the media are demanding that Fields run the show this minute, so Dalton’s generally good game on Sunday won’t fill his stomach.
This did not bother the Rams as Stafford resumed the microwave offense. 37-yards for Tyler Higby and 18-yards for the consistently surprising Kupp, and the Rams got the final yard from Henderson and returned their comfortable lead (27-14) in just two minutes, 55 seconds .
In the off-season the Rams lost to John Johnson II, Troy Hill and Michael Brockers thanks to cap demands. The Brockers may have helped score Sunday, but Jordan Fuller has replaced Johnson and is calling defensive plays, and Long’s presence was evident. Again, General Manager Les Snead’s careful mid-to-late drafting has been vacillating against free agency.
So an elastic defense is all that was needed. When the time comes, expect Ram to break things.