Joniak: Memories of 2018 Bears' Win Over Rams

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By 670 The Score
(670 The Score) On Sunday at noon, 670 The Score will air the rebroadcast of another memorable Bears win.
You'll hear the Bears' 15-6 victory against the Rams on Dec. 9, 2018. Click here to listen.

-- A highly anticipated visit from Sean McVay’s Los Angeles Rams to Soldier Field resulted in a defensive gem by the Bears. The Rams were the talk of the league through 12 games, losing only once. They'd already clinched the NFC West crown before arriving in Chicago for the Sunday night affair. The Rams had scored 29 points or more in every game save for one before playing the Bears. "It was an aggressive, intensive performance," Bears defensive lineman Akiem Hicks said. "We were ready to play some football. For us, we were making a statement. That feeling when we walked off that field was special. It was different."

-- The Bears had one of their best defensive efforts in years. And it was a rough day for Rams quarterback Jared Goff, who engineered only two field-goal drives on the day. "We felt like up front that was one of our best (pass) rushing games as an entire unit," Hick said. "It was collectively as a front four ... we rushed as a group, and it showed on tape."

-- Goff was under siege from start to finish. He threw a career-high four interceptions and was sacked three times. He was also dropped in the end zone for a safety by Bears defensive tackle Eddie Goldman early in the third quarter, giving the Bears an 8-6 lead.

-- Goff had a 19.1 quarterback rating. He had no help from NFL rushing leader Todd Gurley, who was limited to a season-low 28 yards on 11 carries. Hicks and Bears edge rusher Khalil Mack had sacks. Linebacker Roquan Smith, cornerback Prince Amukamara, safety Eddie Jackson and cornerback Kyle Fuller had interceptions. For Fuller, it was the seventh of a Pro Bowl season.

-- The Rams badly wanted to face the Bears again in the playoffs, but Chicago lost to Philadelphia in the wild-card round. After advancing to the Super Bowl to face the Patriots, the Rams even talked about how they wished they'd played the Bears, as they were upset about the loss in the regular season. 

-- Since this Bears-Rams game, including the playoffs, Chicago has an 11-9 record and Los Angeles is 13-9. The Bears went 8-8 in 2019, while the Rams went 9-7. "You see it every year," Hicks said. "You see teams that play well one year ... and then they will fall off and a completely different program it looks like on the field. One thing for us that we focus on is making sure that we’re consistent that we are putting ourselves in positions that we never have to have a steep drop-off."

-- The only touchdown of the game occurred when Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky hit offensive tackle Bradley Sowell on a two-yard pass on a play called "Santa's Sleigh." "We needed a play, so they gave it to the playmaker," Sowell said.

-- No Bears offensive lineman had caught a touchdown pass in more than a decade. It came off play-action to Hicks, who had scored on "Freezer Left" against the Giants the week prior. "It was funny to be out there with the group of guys," Hicks said of his cameo on offense. "The entire week I remember defensively, guys were excited to be able to play a little bit of offense because they felt like, 'Shoot, if Akiem got a score, the sky’s the limit.'"

-- I felt this win over the Rams was the pivotal one for the Bears, given the quality of the opponent at that point in the season. The Bears improved to 9-4 and then reeled off three more victories to finish the regular season at 12-4. There was a Super Bowl feeling building, which Hicks maintains started with coach Matt Nagy’s messaging before the season started. "He made that clear from the beginning," Hicks said. "When we got to that position and at that time of the year where we had a legitimate possibility, it felt like reality. It felt like it could come true. You’re always chasing, and it doesn’t always happen the way you want it to, but the hunt continues."

-- All of Nagy’s culture-changing techniques seemed to take root in that one game. "For them to go out and do it (against) a team that had only one loss all year long ... is so powerful for our guys now because it helps us grow," Nagy said. "It helps us grow with confidence. It helps us grow togetherness. When you teach that and you talk about it over and over and over -- as a culture, as a building, everyone together as a family -- and then they do it, it lights a fire. It puts us in a great position."

-- Trubisky was rusty returning from a two-game absence for a right shoulder injury and completed only 16 passes for 110 yards while throwing three interceptions.

-- Enjoy the broadcast, as it's the last in the Bears Classics series for the Score that was organized by program director Mitch Rosen and operations assistant Shane Riordan. Thanks to those two gentlemen for pulling these games out of the vault. On behalf of my broadcast partner Tom Thayer and the rest of the Bears Radio crew at WBBM, we thank you and look forward to an amazing 2020 season bringing you the excitement and the intrigue of Bears football.

Jeff Joniak is the play-by-play announcer for the Bears broadcasts on WBBM Newsradio 780 & 105.9 FM. Follow him on Twitter @JeffJoniak.