The Bears have fallen, and they can’t get up.
The trip to Los Angeles on Sunday night offered up a Rams team that went into the game struggling every bit as badly as the Bears, and in even worse shape injurywise with two starting offensive linemen and two of their top three wide receivers on the sideline.
Yet, in spite of outplaying the Rams in the first half and all night long, the Bears still went to the locker room at halftime down, 10-0.
On a day the Vikings came back from a 20-0 halftime deficit to the Broncos and the 49ers rallied after being down 16-0 to the Cardinals, it was impossible to escape the feeling that down by 10 the Bears were toast.
The game marked the seventh time in 10 tries this year that the Bears have failed to score a touchdown in the first half.
Adding to the Bears’ woes, Eddy Pineiro was wide left on a 48-yard attempt on their opening drive of the game.
Coach Matt Nagy responded by going for it on fourth-and-9 on their second possession, eschewing another 48-yard attempt, and then after driving to the Rams’ 29 on their third possession, Nagy sent Pineiro back out only to watch him go wide right from 47 yards.
Just one more missing piece to the puzzle.
Particularly frustrating was the fact that some of the Bears’ MIA studs on defense showed up early in L.A.
On the Rams’ first play of the game, Eddie Jackson ripped the ball out of the grasp of Todd Gurley with Ha Ha Clinton Dix on the spot to recover it.
On the Rams’ second possession after L.A. drove the ball 42 yards to the Bears’ 30, Roquan Smith stepped in front of a Jared Goff throw for an interception.
Still, the Bears faced one dilemma they’ve been unable to address in recent weeks and made one mistake, and that was enough for the 10-point deficit.
After leading the NFL in run defense through the first five weeks of the season, the Bears had been unable to stop the run since, and in spite of their makeshift line – and Todd Gurley struggling all season – the Rams ran the ball 16 times for 73 yards (12 carries for 64 yards from Gurley) and threw only six passes in the half.
But that only amounted to a 3-0 deficit.
On third-and-5 with about four minutes remaining in the half and the Rams at their own 48, Cooper Kupp got singled up outside on Buster Skrine with Eddie Jackson in deep help, and Jackson got caught peeking into the backfield at Goff, who found Kupp behind Skrine on a 51-yard bomb.
With two takeaways and a plus-1 edge in turnover/takeaway ratio, a six-minute advantage in time of possession and one of their best offensive halves of the season, the Bears were down 10.
To their credit, they did fight, and the defense had its best 60 minutes since losing Akiem Hicks.
After holding the Rams to a three-and-out to open the second half, the Bears mounted one of their best drives of the season, 80 yards on 12 plays, finishing with a gorgeous 14-yard TD toss from Mitch Trubisky to Tarik Cohen on a wheel route.
Adding to the feeling of helplessness with these Bears, this was a night when Trubisky was the best quarterback on the field. Not spectacular, but not the reason for the Bears’ meager output of points.
The defense played its best game since Week 4 against the Vikings, but again the magic just wasn’t there.
With 2:10 to play in the third quarter, Kyle Fuller stepped in front of a Goff dart aimed at Mike Thomas that on most nights would have been a pick-six, but Fuller lost his footing and couldn’t hold onto the ball.
The Rams finally figured out the defense with their only long scoring drive of the game, eight plays for
71 yards, ending on a 5-yard Malcolm Brown TD dive, and the Bears had found another way to lose.
You want one more kick in the gut?
With three minutes to play, trailing by 10 and with no clear explanation, Nagy yanked Trubisky for Chase Daniel.
What hurt so much about this one is the Bears didn’t lose to a better team, they traveled more than 2,000 miles to beat themselves, and appear rudderless leaving the field.
• Hub Arkush is executive editor of Pro Football Weekly. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow him on Twitter @Hub_Arkush.