The Bears did little different Sunday, but whether they did it better or their opponent did it worse – St. Louis (2-9) has been outscored by an NFL-worst 197 points -- everything looked new as Chicago snapped a two-game losing streak.
Adewale Ogunleye lined up wide left, looped backward and stormed up the middle to sack Marc Bulger for an 8-yard loss and knock the Rams’ quarterback out of the game on his first series.
When did the Bears add that exotic defensive wrinkle?
“We’ve been running it all year,” Ogunleye said after Chicago’s 27-3 win Sunday. “All year. I think we run it too much. But it worked today.”
The Bears did little different Sunday, but whether they did it better or their opponent did it worse – St. Louis (2-9) has been outscored by an NFL-worst 197 points -- everything looked new as Chicago snapped a two-game losing streak. Consider:
- The Bears had five sacks, matching their total for the previous five games.
- The Bears intercepted backup Trent Green a season-high four times.
- Chicago’s defense gave up a season-low 14 yards rushing.
- Matt Forte ran for a career-high 132 yards on 20 carries, including touchdowns of 13 and 47 yards to help the Bears to a 21-0 lead midway through the second quarter.
And the Bears (6-5) made it all look easy, starting with Danieal Manning’s game-opening 50-yard kickoff return, as they kept pace with the Vikings to set up a showdown for first place in the NFC North next Sunday night in Minnesota.
“This was a basic offense that we were playing again,” Rams cornerback Ron Bartell said, “just line up in the I formation and run the ball down your throat.”
Like the Bears have done all year. Only better. The Bears finished 201 yards rushing, more than they’ve had in any game in three years and more than in their last two losses combined.
“We had basic runs in there to pound the ball up the middle and get yardage,” Forte said.
The result was anything but basic as the line blew out huge holes in the Rams’ defensive front.
“Matt makes them look huge,” center Olin Kreutz said. “He takes advantage of them and he hits the hole hard. We know if we do our job, he’s going to do his.”
As good as Forte was – and he was most of Chicago’s offense on a day when Kyle Orton had only 139 yards passing on 29 attempts – it was the defense that starred Sunday.
After getting burned for 200 yards rushing and another 200-plus passing in last week’s 37-3 debacle in Green Bay, Chicago’s defense slammed St. Louis. It wasn’t enough to stop the Rams for no gain; the Bears pushed them backward. Six of the Rams’ first eight plays lost yardage.
Ogunleye and Tommie Harris combined for four sacks. They had 4 ½ in Chicago’s first 10 games.
“I guess you guys will get off our backs a little about sacks,” said defensive end Alex Brown, who had his first sack in six games.
The Bears were even better against the run, holding the Rams to zero yards through three quarters.
“We talked about having fun, but in order to do that, you have to make plays,” coach Lovie Smith said. “For the defensive line, you need to get sacks. For the rest of the defense, we need to stop the run and get takeaways.”
The Bears did all of that. Lance Briggs intercepted two passes, and Brian Urlacher and Charles Tillman one each. That means happy days are here again in Chicago. At least for one week. Crushing the Rams served as a football sorbet, erasing the taste from losses to the Titans and Packers.
“Mentally, we needed this,” Ogunleye said. “I tell people to stay away from what people say, but people don’t do it. Teammates like to read the newspapers and watch TV and what’s said about them. When it’s negative, it can be a bad effect. The only way to wash that out of our minds is to dominate and prove to yourself you can do it.
“We won in dominating fashion, but we’ve still got Green Bay in the back of our heads. And we know what that did to us. We can use that as fuel for Minnesota. With these two games combined, we know that if we play our A game, we’ll play well. If we don’t, we’ll get smashed.”
Assistant sports editor Matt Trowbridge can be reached at: 815-987-1383 or email@example.com.