The Matthew Stafford era arrived in full force on "Sunday Night Football," with the Rams rolling over the Bears thanks largely to a flurry of big plays through the air. Chicago did not bow out immediately or easily, with Andy Dalton leaning on David Montgomery to stay competitive into the fourth quarter. But Stafford was clearly the superior signal-caller under the prime-time lights, buoyed by a reliable receiving corps headlined by Cooper Kupp and Van Jefferson, as well as some feisty defense from standard-bearers like Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey. Windy City got a small taste of promise with rookie Justin Fields scoring in a limited role, but Sunday night belonged to the home team, with the Rams opening their 2021 season with a decisive 34-14 victory.
Here are some immediate takeaways from Sunday night's big win for Los Angeles:
Why the Rams won
They came out with guns blazing. Two straight scoring drives -- 10 points on just nine plays -- showcased early what the Stafford-Sean McVay connection can be. And Stafford really showed off the arm early, rocketing the ball at different levels of the field. With basically no ground game, the new QB consistently hit on big plays when he needed to, with Kupp, Jefferson and Tyler Higbee all finding space deep against the Bears secondary. Robert Woods emerged late to do the same, with Stafford once again showing off the arm talent that convinced McVay to lure him to the West Coast. Defensively, the Rams also looked just fine under new coordinator Raheem Morris, with Ramsey flashing physicality all night and the D-line -- namely Donald -- putting a solid amount of pressure on a banged-up Chicago front.
Recapping all 14 games from Sunday
Why the Bears lost
Their predictable weak spots -- QB, OL, CB -- took turns ending up on the wrong side of big plays. Dalton was serviceable for much of his first start under center, but a couple of errant throws early on, including one that led to an end-zone pick, killed any momentum Matt Nagy's offense may have. Up front, in between injuries to multiple left tackles, the line struggled to fend off Donald and Co. And in the secondary, the young corners too often could not contain L.A.'s pass-catchers on key downs. The Bears certainly didn't quit at any point in this game, even briefly threatening a comeback, but never even tried to fully break out their potential secret weapon in Fields, who was no doubt the club's best play-making threat the few times he was permitted on the field in place of -- or in addition to -- Dalton.
Four plays into the game, the Bears were knocking at the door with a chance to score the game's first points thanks to a huge 41-yard gallop by Montgomery. Then, on third down from the Rams' 8-yard line, Dalton's pass was tipped into the hands of David Long Jr. L.A. proceeded to go on a 13-0 run and essentially bury the Bears from the start.
Play of the game
The Rams' deep shot to Jefferson, the first touchdown of the Stafford-McVay era, was a thing of beauty (and probably had Los Angeles in a collective fit of joy), in part because of Jefferson's adjustment after falling down from Stafford's laser:
The Rams (1-0) will hit the road in Week 2 for a Sunday afternoon matchup with Carson Wentz and the Colts (0-1), who fell to Seattle in Week 1. The Bears (0-1), meanwhile, will return home to play host to the Bengals (1-0), who are fresh off an overtime upset of the Vikings.