Bears at Rams score, takeaways: Matthew Stafford soars in L.A. debut; Justin Fields scores first NFL TD

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.

Turning point

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:

What's next

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.

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LAR -9.5, O/U 46.5

Season Leaders

passing
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A. Dalton 262 YD, 1 TD, 1 INT
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A. Dalton 262 YD, 1 TD, 1 INT
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M. Stafford 599 YD, 5 TDS, 1 INT
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M. Stafford 599 YD, 5 TDS, 1 INT
rushing
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D. Montgomery 36 ATT, 169 YD, 1 TD
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D. Montgomery 36 ATT, 169 YD, 1 TD
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D. Henderson 29 ATT, 123 YD, 2 TDS
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D. Henderson 29 ATT, 123 YD, 2 TDS
receiving
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D. Mooney 11 REC, 92 YD
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D. Mooney 11 REC, 92 YD
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C. Kupp 16 REC, 271 YD, 3 TDS
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C. Kupp 16 REC, 271 YD, 3 TDS
Live updates
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@RamsNFL via Twitter
September 13, 2021, 4:05 AM
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@RamsNFL via Twitter
September 13, 2021, 3:48 AM
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@RamsNFL via Twitter
September 13, 2021, 3:25 AM
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@ChicagoBears via Twitter
September 13, 2021, 3:12 AM
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Thanks for spending your Sunday evening with us, folks. We'll be back at it tomorrow night with a live blog of Ravens-Raiders on Monday Night Football.

September 13, 2021, 3:11 AM
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Very nice season-opening win for the Rams. Really took control after the break. Lots of questions for the Bears, but the most obvious one is when Justin Fields will take over at quarterback. 

September 13, 2021, 3:10 AM
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You knew Aaron Donald was going to get home eventually, especially with the Bears having to pass on every snap. The guy is too good.

September 13, 2021, 3:04 AM
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Also some fantastic footwork from Robert Woods in the back of the end zone. I think people are going to find out that Woods and Cooper Kupp are much better than they previously thought.

September 13, 2021, 2:58 AM
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@ChicagoBears via Twitter
September 13, 2021, 2:57 AM
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That's not a play Jared Goff was making for the Rams. The level of off-platform throwing and arm strength Stafford brings is on a whole other level.

September 13, 2021, 2:56 AM
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Henderson had five carries for six yards at one point. His last eight carries have gone for 50 yards. That's a big improvement in the second half.

September 13, 2021, 2:52 AM
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More yikes-level tackling from the Bears in the secondary. That was really bad.

September 13, 2021, 2:48 AM
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Henderson finally looks like he's getting something going on the ground. He's been in for every offensive snap tonight but those last two runs were probably his two best of the game.

September 13, 2021, 2:45 AM
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