|Date of game: 11/24/2013
Recap: St. Louis vs. Chicago
St. Louis, MO (SportsNetwork.com) - The St. Louis Rams no longer have an identity crisis.
Jeff Fisher's re-emphasis on the power running game has his offense humming.
Benny Cunningham, Zac Stacy and Tavon Austin each tallied a rushing touchdown and the Rams accounted for 258 yards on the ground in their 42-21 victory over the Chicago Bears.
After being routed 35-11 by the San Francisco 49ers on Sept. 26, the Rams were 1-3 and looking for answers. At the time, with Sam Bradford as the quarterback, St. Louis shyed away from its running game and called passes 71 percent of the time. Fisher then went back to basics and his running game became more imperative than ever when Bradford was lost for the season after tearing his ACL against the Carolina Panthers on Oct. 20.
St. Louis is 4-3 since its poor start.
Cunningham carried the ball 13 times for 109 yards, while Stacy added 87 yards on 12 totes for the Rams (5-6), who tallied 140 yards rushing in a 38-8 drubbing of the Indianapolis Colts two weeks ago.
Bradford's backup, Kellen Clemens, completed 10-of-22 passes for 167 yards and a touchdown in the triumph.
The Long brothers, Chicago guard Kyle and St. Louis defensive end Chris, were the focal point of a scuffle in the second quarter. In the skirmish, Kyle Long appeared to kick Rams defensive end William Hayes before Chris Long intervened as he dragged his younger brother away from the fracas.
"He happened to be a body I saw, so I grabbed him," Chris Long said. "I'm sure there's some out there disappointed with it if they were glued to the TV looking for conflict between us."
Josh McCown was 36-of-47 for 352 yards with two touchdowns and an interception and Brandon Marshall hauled in 10 receptions for 117 yards and a touchdown for Chicago (6-5), which is tied with the Detroit Lions for the top spot in the NFC North following their loss to Tampa Bay Buccaneers earlier Sunday.
"There are a lot of reasons why you lose, and we didn't do a good job of stopping the run, obviously," Bears head coach Marc Trestman said.
The Bears' Devin Hester had a 62-yard punt return for touchdown nullified by a holding penalty in the fourth quarter.
Trailing by 13 midway through the fourth, Chicago drove down to the Rams' 1- yard line, but needed eight plays before finally pushing the ball across the goal line.
Rams cornerback Brandon McGee was whistled for a holding on a 2nd-and-goal to give Chicago a fresh set of downs. After Michael Bush was dropped for a loss of two, the Bears had a touchdown nullified when Jermon Bushrood was called for a hold on Martellus Bennett's 3-yard TD catch. Forte took the ensuing screen pass 12 yards back to the 1 and Chicago again got another fresh set of downs when Michael Brockers was whistled for a roughing the passer penalty on 3rd-and-goal. Bush finally crossed the goal line two plays later to claw the Bears within 27-21 midway through the fourth.
The Rams had an answer.
Cunningham broke off a 27-yard run down the right sideline before Clemens hit Chris Givens and Jared Cook for receptions of 19 and 29, yards, respectively on back-to-back plays. Cunningham ran in for a 9-yard score four plays later. Isaiah Pead brought in the ensuing two-point conversion to make it 35-21 with 3:05 left.
Robert Quinn then put the game away when he strip-sacked McCown and returned the fumble 31 yards for a touchdown with 2:05 left.
St. Louis, which had scored just 29 total points in the first quarter this season, put up 21 in the opening frame Sunday as the Rams found the end zone on each of their first three possessions.
Austin took an end-around 65 yards down the right sideline for a score on the third offensive snap of the game and James Laurinaities recovered a Forte fumble at the Chicago 7-yard line on the Bears' first play from scrimmage.
Stacy plunged in from a yard out four snaps later to make it 14-0.
After Bennett hauled in a 7-yard TD pass on a back-shoulder pass in the front right corner of the end zone, St. Louis capped a 9-play, 80-yard sequence when Clemens flipped a 6-yard score to Cook late in the period.
McCown hit Marshall for a 3-yard score on a pivot route to bring the Bears within seven midway through the second before the Rams answered with a Greg Zuerlein 29-yard field goal to extend the margin to 24-14 with 1:11 remaining until the break.
Zuerlein booted through another field goal to conclude St. Louis' opening march of the second half, this one from 40 yards out, to stake the Rams a 27-14 cushion.Game Notes
Cook caught four balls for 80 yards ... The Rams were 4-of-10 on third down,
while Chicago finished 6-of-10 ... Chicago was penalized 10 times for 84 yards
... The Bears had won four straight in the series.