The Bears defense aced its stiffest test of the season Sunday night at Soldier Field, dominating an explosive Rams offense to fuel an impressive 15-6 victory.
The unit did not allow a touchdown, produced four interceptions and a safety, and held NFL leading rusher Todd Gurley to a season-low 28 yards on 11 carries. The defense constantly harassed quarterback Jared Goff, who posted a career-low 19.1 passer rating.
"Our play on defense, for me all I can say is wow," said coach Matt Nagy. "It was one that I haven't seen in a long, long time against such a powerful opponent."
The performance was even more impressive considering that the Rams started possessions at the Bears' 15, 49 and 27 following three Mitchell Trubisky interceptions.
"That's the thing I love about this defense," said outside linebacker Khalil Mack. "No fault to the offense. It's just another opportunity for us to go out and show our domination. That's the mindset from everybody."
With the win, the Bears (9-4) increased their lead atop the NFC North over the Vikings (6-5-1) to two games and reduced their magic number to two—meaning that they'll clinch the division title with any combination of two victories or Minnesota losses.
The Rams entered Sunday night's contest with an NFL-best 11-1 record, averaging 34.9 points and 439.9 yards per game. Los Angeles had scored at least 30 points in 10 of its first 12 contests and had not been held under 23 points in any game this season.
On Sunday night, the defense helped the Bears snap a 6-6 halftime lead and never look back. On the second play of the second half, Eddie Goldman rushed up the middle and dropped Goff in the end zone for a safety, giving the Bears an 8-6 lead.
"It really set the tone for the second half," Trubisky said. "We knew if we just created positive plays on offense, our defense was going to shut them down. They set the tone all night. There's nothing that they could have done to get going. The defense made up their minds they were going to shut them down. It was absolutely outstanding."
The Bears offense followed the safety with its lone touchdown drive, marching 81 yards on nine plays capped by another creative trick play. On third-and-goal, Trubisky faked a handoff to Akiem Hicks and tossed a two-yard touchdown pass to eligible lineman Bradley Sowell, a 6-7, 312-pounder who reached high to bring down the ball and give the Bears a 15-6 lead.
"It was very impressive," Nagy said. "Bradley in practice does some unique things for being a big offensive lineman, I mean, that was a complete thumbs catch. He just looked it in. The ball was up high. That was an unbelievable catch. Great throw, too."
The Bears defense continued to dominate, blanking the Rams in the second half. Their best chance to score came when safety John Johnson III intercepted a Trubisky pass and returned it 35 yards to the Bears' 27 late in the third quarter. But on the next play, Kyle Fuller stepped in front of receiver Josh Reynolds and picked off Goff's pass.
Early in the fourth period, Greg Zuerlein's 40-yard field-goal attempt hit the right upright, enabling the Bears to maintain their two-score lead.
The defense followed with fourth-down stops on the next two Los Angeles possessions via a Hicks sack and Prince Amukamara interception—the Bears' fourth pick of the night. Goff had never thrown more than two interceptions in a game and had only seven picks on 414 attempts this season before Sunday night.
Trubisky struggled in his return to action after missing two games with a right shoulder injury. He completed 16 of 30 passes for 110 yards with one touchdown, three interceptions and a career-low 33.3 passer rating.
Jordan Howard picked up the slack on offense, rushing for a season-high 101 yards on 19 carries. Tarik Cohen added 69 yards on nine attempts, including a 32-yard burst that set up a first-quarter field goal and a 23-yard dash that led to the offense's only TD.
"I'm pretty disappointed in myself, the way I played, especially being out two weeks," Trubisky said. "[But] it's hard to be down when you get such a big win like that. You've got to put your own selfish thoughts about how you played aside.
"I'll get everything corrected. I'm going to go back to work this week, just work really hard to get it corrected, play a lot better. I'm just very proud of the way the team had my back. We're still going to celebrate because it's big for this organization."