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For a Chicagoan, taking a physical beating is bad enough on the psyche. At times, though, a busted nose and split lip can have a real sense of nobility or something. But that’s definitely not the case when you’ve been roughed up by the glitzy, look-at-me town of Los Angeles.
The LA Rams beat the Chicago Bears 24-10 on Monday Night Football with everyone watching. LA, of all places. This was awful right down to the civic core. Palm trees, movie stars, and sun-baked kooks beats up Butkus and wind chill and Italian beef sandwiches.
Oh god. And today the media in Chicago will all focus on the Bears offense, and basically, the fact that they don’t have one. Here’s a trivia question: Name every single player on the Bears offense who’s better than average.
The answer: receiver Allen Robinson.
But real Chicagoans already knew that. The sight they won’t be able to get rid of was the Bears defense being pushed around in that modern stadium.
The Bears were already living on a great defense and no offense. But the hope was that the offense would develop just enough to take the pressure off the defense. Instead, the pressure snapped the Bears defense back.
Is this the game that broke another great Bears defense? When they’re on the field so much, guys get tired, guys get hurt. It happens nearly every year to the Bears.
There comes a game when the defense is no longer getting better and starts getting worse. This could turn out to be that night.
“I don’t ever remember having our own defense score more than our offense,’’ Bears coach Matt Nagy asid. “That’s, that’s that’s hard to do. So that part I don’t like, and it bothers me.’’
That’s right, the Bears offense scored 3 points and the Bears defense scored 7, when defensive end Robert Quinn forced a fumble that safety Eddie Jackson ran in for an 8-yard touchdown.
The Bears trailed just 10-3 at halftime, as the defense was its usual self. But the offense under quarterback Nick Foles just could not do anything, couldn’t even seem to get to its own 10-yard line against a tough Rams defensive front.
The Bears have young receivers who can’t catch — other than Robinson. Foles is adequate, but he often has to rush and throw off his back foot because, let’s be honest:
The Bears offensive line is a welcome mat.
Eventually, the Bears defense . . . just . . . buckled. The Rams started pushing the line backward and picked up big chunks of yards on every play.
Tired? Of course the Bears defense was tired. But this seemed bigger than that. It felt as if their will was gone.
“I don’t want to point fingers,’’ Nagy said. “I just don’t want to do that to just our offensive line or just our wide receivers or tight end or the quarterback . . .’’
He forgot the running backs.
The Bears were 5-1 before this game, yet there was never this rock solid certainty that they were any good. They kept winning close games, usually against bad teams, though the defense did hit Tom Brady so many times that he forgot how to count to four.
“Would you rather win ugly or lose pretty?’’ Foles asked last week.
Are those the only options? The Bears had become one of the league’s elite defenses, improving every week under Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks and a ferocious front line.
This Rams game on Monday Night Football was going to be the defining moment for the Bears. And it was. The defense started getting frustrated in the second half and committed penalties that showed it, such as Hicks jumping on the pile.
To Chicago, the Bears are the definition of Chicago Tough, a cold-weather city that looks down its frozen nose at LA for its self-absorption.
This same game happened in 2018, when the Rams arrived as everyone’s favorite video game, averaging 35 points a game. Until . . .
Bears 15, Rams 6. The Bears broke the Rams’ offense that day. Chalk one up for beef sandwiches.
Even way back with Chicago’s most beloved team, the 1985 Bears, the NFC Championship Game was against the Rams. The Bears were down-and-dirty, smashmouth defense, and the Rams were glitzy behind running back Eric Dickerson. Could the Bears defense stop him?
Bears defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan laughed and predicted that Dickerson would fumble two or three times and wouldn’t get 50 yards. He finished with 46 yards and two fumbles in the Bears 24-0 win. Every Bears fan who saw it thought better of Chicago because of Mike Singletary’s one-on-one tackle on Dickerson.
That’s sort of what Bears fans were hoping for Monday night. Instead, Chicago looked like it was the city with palm trees.