LOS ANGELES – A crucial road victory was there for the taking Sunday night in balmy Los Angeles, but the Bears failed to capitalize on numerous opportunities in a deflating 17-7 loss to the Rams.
Instead of climbing back to the .500 mark with a second straight win, the Bears lost for the fifth time in six games to fall to 4-6.
“Obviously a disappointing loss for us,” said coach Matt Nagy. “It’s a game that had nothing to do with effort, Our guys played hard, but just in the end seven points isn’t enough. You’re got to score more than that to win, and we didn’t do that tonight.”
An offense that has struggled most of the season produced points on only one of 12 possessions, in part because kicker Eddy Piñeiro missed both of his field-goal attempts from 47 and 49 yards.
That wasted an impressive performance by the Bears defense, which generated takeaways on the Rams’ first two possessions of the game and kept the contest close with a strong second half.
After their third scoreless first half of the season, the Bears cut the deficit to 10-7 on Mitchell Trubisky's 14-yard touchdown pass to Tarik Cohen midway through the third quarter, Trubisky connected on 7 of 9 passes for 66 yards on the 12-play, 80-yard drive.
“That was probably the one good drive that we had,” Nagy said. “But we need more of those.”
The Bears defense, meanwhile, forced the Rams to punt on their first five possessions of the second half, which included four three-and-outs. Los Angeles mustered just 36 yards and one first down on 17 plays.
But the Bears offense was unable to take advantage, countering with punts on four straight drives, including three three-and-outs. The unit was held to 30 yards and one first down on 14 plays.
The Bears’ longest play from scrimmage in the game was a swing pass from Trubisky to running back David Montgomery that gained 19 yards.
“I just felt like we never could get into a flow,” said receiver Taylor Gabriel. “We never could get into a rhythm. That was all night.”
One factor in the offense’s lack of success in the second half may have been a right hip injury that limited Trubisky. He sustained the injury late in the first half and fought through the pain before being replaced by backup Chase Daniel with 3:31 to play in the fourth quarter.
The injury was affecting how Trubisky was throwing the ball, forcing him to rely solely his arm and not incorporating his body.
“He just wasn’t feeling right,” Nagy said. “His hip was hurting him. We knew it a few series earlier that something wasn’t right. We watched him kind of just to keep an eye on him and see how it was.
“I had to pull him aside and talk to him, and just ask him, and say exactly that we needed him to be honest with us. Trying to play through that is was what he was doing, and at the same time it was affecting a little bit of how he was able to throw. I don’t want to put him at more risk, and I also don’t want to affect how the play is for the team.”
Trubisky finished the game completing 24 of 43 passes for 190 yards with one touchdown, one interception and a 65.1 passer rating.
Both times, however, the Bears failed to capitalize. They turned the ball over on downs as cornerback Jalen Ramsey broke up Trubisky’s pass intended for Gabriel on fourth-and-nine from the Rams’ 31. The Bears opted not to attempt a 49-yard field goal after Piñeiro had missed a 48-yarder wide left on the game’s opening possession.
After Smith’s first interception of the season, Piñeiro missed again, this time wide right from 47 yards.
“You’ve got to turn [the takeaways] into touchdowns, right?” Nagy said. “You have to. Then you jump up 14-0 and now you’re playing. We just haven’t done that. That’s where I think we just have to try to figure out what’s the ‘why’ behind it.”
The Rams eventually took a 10-0 lead on Greg Zuerlein’s 38-yard field goal and Gurley’s 1-yard touchdown run, which came one play after Goff’s 50-yard completion to receiver Cooper Kupp.
The Rams later iced the win on Malcolm Brown’s 5-yard touchdown run, increasing their lead to 17-7 with 3:31 remaining in the fourth quarter.
“I thought the defense played really well tonight,” Nagy said, “and then again towards the end, they’re out there on the field awhile, and we’ve just got to score more than seven points.”
The Bears will return home to host the Giants next Sunday at Soldier Field. At 4-6, they know their chances of salvaging their season are diminishing quickly.
“It’s been challenging,” Nagy said. “These type of games, these close games, we want to come out on top and we haven’t done that.
“Offensively, I know that we have the pieces and everything. We just haven’t had that one game where it’s just been four quarters of just fireworks. It just hasn’t happened. We as a team, this is where we’ll get truly tested when we get back into the facility and see where guys are at.”