The Rams failed to take advantage of an opportunity to clinch a bye in the wild-card round of the playoffs and also lost ground in their bid to gain home-field advantage through the playoffs. Here’s what we learned from their 15-6 loss to the Chicago Bears.
The Rams defense should be encouraged
The Bears defense was the story of the game, shutting down the Rams’ high-powered offense, intercepting four passes and recording a safety.
But the Rams’ defense also played one of its best games of the season, even with star tackle Aaron Donald neutralized.
The Rams still have an issue stopping the run: They gave up 101 yards rushing to Jordan Howard. That portends a problem in the playoffs, especially against teams that want to grind it out and keep the ball away from the Rams’ offense.
But they continued their recent surge in creating turnovers. Cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Nickell Robey-Coleman and safety John Johnson intercepted passes.
Todd Gurley needs more touches
The star running back carried the ball only 11 times for 28 yards. He was targeted seven times and caught three passes.
That’s a mere 14 touches for one of the NFL’s most dynamic playmakers.
In Week 11 against the Kansas City Chiefs, Gurley had only 15 touches, nine fewer than his season average at the time. He did not score a touchdown. The Rams got away with it because the Chiefs defense could not slow down their offense in a 54-51 victory.
The Bears defense was more than capable.
Jared Goff could use a reset
For the second game in a row, the Rams quarterback did not play with the efficiency that was his hallmark for nearly all of the season.
Goff appeared off in the Rams’ Week 13 victory at Detroit and even shakier against the Bears.
Now, both the Lions and Bears employed and executed effective schemes. The Bears, in particular, kept Goff under duress the entire game. But in both games Goff missed on many throws he typically executes.
Goff handled questions about his recent play with typical aplomb. He did not make excuses. He said he was fine.
He needs to show it on Sunday night against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Young linemen are developing
During the week, veteran center John Sullivan and veteran left tackle Andrew Whitworth rest and give way to rookies Brian Allen and Joseph Noteboom, who take first-team reps at multiple spots.
At the end of the first quarter, Sullivan left the game to be evaluated for a concussion. Allen stepped in and did not flinch.
Later in the game, left guard Rodger Saffold left briefly because of an apparent leg injury. Noteboom, who practices daily at both tackle and both guard spots, stepped in.
Home-field advantage in the playoffs will be paramount
The Rams’ only losses came on the road at New Orleans and at Chicago against playoff-caliber teams.
The Rams do not want to return to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome or to Soldier Field.