Rams’ defense, unlikely heroes lead big win over the Bears – Press Enterprise

INGLEWOOD — The Rams faced a Chicago Bears team Monday night that became one of the NFL’s teams to beat this season by winning game after game with late defensive stands.

The Rams decided not to leave it to the end.

Their own defense came up with big plays early and often. Malcolm Brown successfully took on the whole Bears defense and prevailed. Some of Jared Goff’s third-option receivers became first options.

Coming back strong from last week’s sloppy loss, the Rams won 24-10 in front of empty SoFi Stadium stands and a national TV audience.

The Rams led by 21 points in the fourth quarter before the Bears got their lone touchdown on Eddie Jackson’s return of a Robert Woods fumble.

It was the Rams’ big plays on defense that made the difference.

There were interceptions of Nick Foles passes by Taylor Rapp off a Troy Hill tip in the end zone and by Jalen Ramsey to end the Bears’ last hope.

There were four sacks of Foles, two of them by Leonard Floyd, the Rams outside linebacker whom the Bears decided not to re-sign last winter.

It helped that punter Johnny Hekker kept pinning the Bears back, his five punts all landing inside the 20, highlighted by a 63-yarder and balls downed at the 7, 10, 1 and 6.

With Tyler Higbee injured, tight end Johnny Mundt had the best receiving game of his career, while Josh Reynolds took a rare turn leading the Rams’ wide receivers with 52 yards and a touchdown.

For the Rams (5-2), beating the Bears (5-2) gave them their first victory this season over a team with a winning record.

If they want to remember it as a gritty bounce-back from their loss to the 49ers, they should think of the tenacity Brown and his blockers showed with the game still close in the third quarter.

On a first-down play from the Bears’ 13-yard line, Brown took a handoff from Goff, pounded up the middle and seemed to be swallowed up by the defense. But Brown stayed on his feet and the rest of the Rams got behind him and pushed. They ended up at the 1, and the last man to pile on drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

On the next play, Brown scored standing up, making it 17-3 and seeming to break the Bears.

It was the Bears’ next possession on which Hill and Rapp combined for the end zone interception.

The Rams then went 80 yards, with Darrell Henderson running and Goff throwing, including a 12-yard touchdown pass to Gerald Everett that blew the game open.

Goff competed 23 of 33 for 219 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. Henderson rushed for 64 yards on 15 carries, Brown 57 on 10. The Rams gained 166 yards on the ground.

The defense didn’t give up a second-half point, the sixth time in seven games that it allowed three or fewer after the break.

The Bears’ vaunted defense did have its moments.

The Rams got across the 50-yard line on their first four possessions of the game but came away with only one touchdown and a 10-3 halftime lead.

Winning the early field-position battle paid off in a 4-yard touchdown pass from Goff to Reynolds late in the first quarter.

Samuel Sloman kicked the extra point and must have allowed himself a deep breath for the first time since his third blown PAT of the season in last week’s loss to San Francisco prompted the Rams to sign kicker Kai Forbath as a potential alternative.

Two drives later, Sloman came through with a 22-yard field goal after Coach Sean McVay chose not to go for first down on fourth-and-2 at the Bears’ 4 with a 7-3 lead. The attitude seemed to be: In what shaped up as a low-scoring game, take the sure points.

But Sloman later had a 48-yard field goal attempt blocked, a repeated problem for the rookie.

Both early scoring drives relied on Rams tight ends who weren’t Higbee.

With Higbee sidelined by a hand injury from last week’s loss to San Francisco, Everett became an early target. Everett reached behind him to make a good catch for a 15-yard gain to the Bears’ 36, the biggest gain of the touchdown drive.

Then Mundt, the third tight end who is usually used more as a blocker, caught a short pass from Goff over the middle, broke a tackle and went for 34 yards to the Bears’ 12. It was the longest play of Mundt’s career. He came into the game with 36 yards in four years.

This story will be updated.

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