CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 23: Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears throws a pass against the St. Louis Rams at Soldier Field on September 23, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Updated: September 23, 2012 7:28PM
The Bears couldn’t wait for Sunday, trying to distance themselves from an embarrassing and humbling 13-point prime-time loss in Green Bay.
Try as they might, the Bears couldn’t escape the fallout from Jay Cutler’s dressing down of J’Marcus Webb then subsequent shoulder bump, so they desperately wanted a chance to redeem themselves on the field.
And while they defeated the St. Louis Rams, 23-6, the Bears didn’t immediately rekindle all the preseason hype about making a Super Bowl run with an often ugly performance against a team that went 2-14 last season.
Not until less than four minutes remaining did Bears quarterback Jay Cutler gash the Rams aggressive defensive with a 28-yard connection with Brandon Marshall. Until then, Cutler and his targets were marred with drops and off-target throws, relying once again on the defense to keep them in the game.
The defense, often criticized for its advancing age, had a dominating performance against a quarterback who entered the game with the NFL’s third-highest passer rating. Sam Bradford, a former No. 1 pick, was sacked and knocked around all game, finishing without a touchdown and barely completing half his passes.
At the start of the game, the Rams dared the Bears offense to get their home crowd roaring.
But, after a 12-yard run by Michael Bush on the first play, the Bears offense staggered at the start for a third consecutive game.
After two first downs, including a fourth third-and-one conversion by Bush on the season, false start by Chilo Rachal, who replaced Chris Spencer at left guard.
But, as they were punting the ball, Rams linebacker Mario Haggan unwisely made contact with Adam Podlesh, drawing a flag and handing the Bears a first down – and a second chance to make a first impression.
The Bears, though, didn’t muster much with only a three-yard catch by Brandon Marshall to show for it, and kicker Robbie Gould bailed them out with a 54-yard field goal.
The Rams had a solid win against the Washington Redskins last week. But, like the Indianapolis Colts, they have the look of a rebuilding team.
The Bears were supposed to make a leap after finishing 8-8 last season because they upgraded the personnel on offense.
Only one problem: the offensive line is largely the same.
The Bears replaced Chris Spencer with Chilo Rachal at left guard, but he was flagged twice for false starts. One of them, however, may have been on right tackle Gabe Carimi.
With Pro Bowl running back Matt Forte out, the Bears started Bush, and he was productive early on with seven carries for 33 yards and one catch for 18. But, the Rams started to defend the run better in the second and third quarters.
Against the Colts in the opener, after a slow start, Cutler warmed up and finished with a strong statistical game. But Cutler’s encore to a miserable performance against the Packers with, at best, a mediocre effort against the Rams.
He finished 17 of 31 for 183 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. That’s a passer rating of 58.9, the second-lowest figure in a Bears victory since he’s been the starter.