Bears offer no defense of loss to Rams
It would be much easier to list the things that went well for the Bears on Sunday, than all that went wrong.
So let's see, um, the bus didn't crash on the way to Edward Jones Dome, and the charter landed without incident in Chicago on Sunday night.
Those were both positives.
And with Matthew Stafford throwing 4 picks in Detroit, the Bears (6-5) remain in a numerical tie for first with the Lions (6-5) in the NFC North, where the Packers (5-5-1) still haven't won a game without Aaron Rodgers, who is rumored to be coming back Thursday.
Other than that, pretty much an unmitigated disaster.
"At the end of the day, we're sitting right where we were before we started the game," said Bears coach Marc Trestman, after the 42-21 defeat in St. Louis. "Detroit and Chicago are sitting there in first place and Detroit has a half-game lead, and in the process we learned more about ourselves today."
The Bears learned nothing about their defense, which somehow came into the game only second-worst in the NFL against the run behind defensive coordinator Mel Tucker's former team in Jacksonville.
They ended the game, not surprisingly, as the worst run defense in the NFL. And while giving up 258 yards on the ground may be horrifying to Bears fans, it can't be shocking.
"We haven't been playing the run well all year, so we expect teams to try to run the football," said defensive end Julius Peppers. "We have to get it fixed.
"It's not that complicated. Hold your gap and don't let the ball come through your gap. If you do that, there's nowhere to run. If everyone is committed to that, it works."
The only shock is that more teams haven't run it down the Bears' throats, and some teams -- like Baltimore a week ago in the ferocious winds of Soldier Field -- have handed the Bears games by trying to pass instead of simply gutting them.
It's worth repeating -- yet again -- that the Bears had to expect a drop defensively this season -- even before all the injuries -- considering the resources poured into the offense in the off-season. But when they can't outscore their opponents early, getting the lead and forcing teams to throw, they will get gashed like they did Sunday.
"It's not the only reason we lost today," Trestman said. "There's a lot of different reasons why you lose, and certainly one of them is we just didn't do a good job of stopping the run."
Yeah, there were a lot of reasons they lost. There was the third play from scrimmage, when Tavon Austin went 65 yards on a fake end-around. Austin stopped, reversed direction and cruised to the end zone, leaving the Bears' defense mesmerized.
It's taken Austin half a season to learn the playbook and become a crucial part of the St. Louis offense, a painful reminder of what Devin Hester was never able to do with his talent, and the sort of misdirection that was a consistent part of the Rams' offense from start to finish Sunday.
"We weren't expecting it," Peppers said. "We just didn't get off to a good start."
It only got worse from there. Hester mistakenly returned a kick from deep in the end zone and a penalty set the Bears back to their own 9, where Matt Forte fumbled the first snap.
After an unnecessary Chris Conte pass interference gave the Rams life on a third-down incomplete pass in the end zone, the Rams punched it in and it was 14-0 Rams only 2:24 and 8 snaps into the game.
The Bears never recovered and the rest of the day was more of the same.
Josh McCown took an absolute beating behind an offensive line that kept him clean in the mud at home a week ago.
Kyle Long could have been thrown out for a kicking episode during a melee in which his brother -- Rams defensive end Chris Long -- probably saved him from ejection by yanking him out of the pile.
The red-zone offense would have been funny if it hadn't been so pathetic, which is entirely on Trestman even without his starting quarterback.
McCown threw a pick and the Bears fumbled three times, while creating no turnovers.
The Bears ran it 26 times and threw it 47, a function of trailing in the game, but the imbalance just allowed the Rams to tee off on McCown.
The only thing as bad as the defense was the team discipline, highlighted by Long losing his cool and the 10 penalties for 84 yards, none worse than a Craig Steltz holding call at the line of scrimmage that nullified a 62-yard punt return by Hester which would have pulled the Bears to within 27-21 with 14:54 left in the game.
The Bears did score 16 snaps later, but took 7:34 off the clock in the process, and when the Rams walked 80 yards down the field for a touchdown on the next possession, the game was over.
All of that ugliness doesn't even include the 14-play Bears drive to start the second half that removed 6:40 from the clock and resulted in no points when the Bears were first-and-goal from the 4 and couldn't pound it home.
The Bears gave up 14 points in the first three minutes and 14 points in the final three minutes, and in between they were pretty much awful.
"We lose together, we win together," Trestman said. "We have a resilient team with a terrific backbone."
After this one, the Bears are going to need it.
•Hear Barry Rozner on WSCR 670-AM and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.