LOS ANGELES — It was the same old story for Roquan Smith and the Bears’ defense. They made plays. They took the ball away. They played well enough to win. And it wasn’t good enough.
The Bears had takeaways on their first two series — safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix with a fumble recovery and Smith with an interception. They held the Rams to 283 total yards, 5.4 yards per play and 3.2 yards per rush. They held Jared Goff to 173 passing yards and a 69.9 rating. And it all went for naught in a 17-7 loss Sunday night at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
“I felt good throughout the game, but it’s not the standard,” Smith said. “We failed to [win], so it’s back in the lab and finding ways to get better. I still don’t think I did good enough, because I didn’t do good enough for us to get the ‘W.’ That’s how I’m thinking of it. We’ve just got to get better.”
Smith played a starring role, not only with the early interception, but with a hand in four third-down tackles that forced either a punt or a field-goal attempt, helping the Bears stay as close as 10-7 well into the fourth quarter.
“I felt like they were a bit predictable in some of the things they were doing,” Smith said. “It was just going back to film study. But I didn’t make enough plays.”
The Rams were short-handed, playing without starting right tackle Rob Havenstein and starting wide receivers Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods. And they had their mishaps. Goff burned cornerback Buster Skrine for a 50-yard pass play to Cooper Kupp to the 1-yard line that set up Todd Gurley’s touchdown run with 3:28 left in the first half to give the Rams a 10-0 lead.
And Goff threw completions of 26 yards to Josh Reynolds and 20 yards to Gerald Everett in the fourth quarter that set up Malcolm Brown’s five-yard touchdown run and gave the Rams a 17-7 lead with 3:31 to play.
Gurley rushed for 97 yards but earned it on 25 carries (3.9 yards per carry). All in all, the defense did its job.
“I think no parts of the team should feel sorry for themselves,” cornerback Prince Amukamara said. “There’s no way that we can start pointing fingers at each other. We all got ourselves into this mess, and we’re the ones who can bail ourselves out.”
After going four games with just two takeaways, the defense regained a little bit of its edge with takeaways on the first two possessions. On the Rams’ first offensive play of the game, Eddie Jackson stripped the ball from Gurley on a short gain up the middle, and Clinton-Dix recovered to give the Bears the ball at the Rams’ 46.
The offense squandered that opportunity on downs at the Rams 31-yard line. But Smith intercepted Goff on the next possession to thwart the Rams drive.
“Just seeing the crosser coming — he was pretty much mine,” Smith said of his interception. “I didn’t really expect the quarterback to throw the ball, but he did and I somehow made a play on it. A solid play. But I could have done more on that play as well.”
The refrain was all too similar to frustrated players. Those two early takeaways should have sparked the offense, but there’s not much they can say about that.
“I think the whole team’s frustrated,” Amukamara said. “But it’s not an effort problem. The effort is there. It’s just about executing. Yeah, we did do a great job of giving the offense the ball back . . .”