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Quick Hits: Smith shines in road defeat

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LOS ANGELES – Linebacker Roquan Smith led a strong defensive effort in Sunday night’s 17-7 loss to the Rams, recording his first interception of the season, a team-high 11 tackles and a key tackle-for-loss.

The 2018 first-round draft pick showed his athleticism and ball skills in the first quarter when he drifted over to the sideline and picked off a Jared Goff pass. It was Smith’s second career interception. His first came last season—also against Goff and the Rams on Sunday Night Football.

Midway through the third quarter—immediately after the Bears had closed the gap to 10-7, Smith dropped running back Todd Gurley for a 1-yard loss on third-and-one, forcing a Rams three-and-out.

“I felt good throughout the game, but it’s not the standard,” Smith said. “We did not get the ‘dub.’ That’s the main focus going into each and every game, and we failed to do so. It’s back in the lab and finding ways to get better. I still don’t think I did good enough because I didn’t do good enough to get the ‘W.’”

Playing takeaway: The Bears’ starting safeties teamed up to produce a turnover on the Rams’ first play of the game, as Ha Ha Clinton-Dix recovered a Gurley fumble that was forced by Eddie Jackson .

After generating just two takeaways in their previous four games, the Bears matched that total on the Rams’ first two possessions—and very easily could have had two more.

Buster Skrine forced two fumbles, but the Bears were unable to recover either one. The first came in the second quarter when he stripped receiver Cooper Kupp inside the 1 after a 50-yard reception. The play was initially ruled a touchdown, but the call was changed after a replay review showed that the ball came out before Kupp had reached the end zone.

The ball rolled out of bounds. Had it bounced through the end zone inches away, the Bears would have taken possession after a touchback.

With the Bears trailing 10-7 early in the fourth quarter, Skrine knocked the ball away from Kupp again after a short reception. But receiver Michael Thomas alertly recovered at the Rams’ 16.

Too soon: Mitchell Trubisky accepted the blame for a failed option play late in the third quarter. On third-and-one from the Bears’ 29, Trubisky ran to his left and pitched the ball to David Montgomery, who was dropped for a three-yard loss.

“I should’ve attacked the D-end a little more and pitched the ball,” Trubisky said. “I pitched it too early, which is why they made the play.”

Run defense improved: After gashing the Bears for 64 yards on 12 carries in the first half, Todd Gurley was limited to 33 yards on 13 attempts in the second half. In a 15-6 win over the Rams last season at Soldier Field, the Bears held Gurley to 28 yards on 11 carries.

Better outing: After converting just four third-downs in their last two games—the Bears were 2-of-10 in a loss to the Eagles and 2-of-12 in a win over the Lions—they were 6-of-17 Sunday night against the Rams.

Running men: A game-time decision due to an ankle injury he sustained Wednesday in practice, Montgomery was active but rushed for just 31 yards on 14 carries and caught one pass for 19 yards. Tarik Cohen led the Bears in rushing with 39 yards on nine carries.

News and notes: The Bears lost a game while winning the turnover battle (2-1) for the first time this season. They are now 4-1 with a positive differential, 0-4 with a negative ratio and 0-1 when it’s even ... The Bears fell to 4-3 when allowing 17 or fewer points this season after going 10-0 last year … Jared Goff’s 11 completions tied a career low … Right tackle Bobby Massie exited in the second half with a back injury and was replaced by Cornelius Lucas III … The Bears failed to record a sack for the second time this season.

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