Rams' Aaron Donald has usual dominant game; Bears' star Khalil Mack has zero tackles
Two of the NFL’s best — and highest-paid — defensive players had a chance to affect the Rams’ game against the Chicago Bears on Sunday night at the Coliseum.
The Rams’ Aaron Donald produced more than the Bears’ Khalil Mack.
Donald, the two-time NFL defensive player of the year, recorded two sacks and four quarterback hits during the Rams’ 17-7 victory.
Mack, the 2016 defensive player of the year, did not make a tackle.
Donald has eight sacks for a Rams team that improved its record to 6-4 heading into Monday night’s home game against the Baltimore Ravens.
“We just played good as a defense, everybody flying around and, you know, played solid,” Donald said.
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The Rams’ injury-depleted offensive line featured 14th-year pro Andrew Whitworth at left tackle and four players with little or no NFL game experience at their positions. Austin Blythe moved from guard to center. Second-year pro Austin Corbett, acquired in a trade with the Cleveland Browns last month, started at left guard, rookie David Edwards at right guard.
Rookie Bobby Evans started for the first time at right tackle and helped neutralize Mack.
“You think about Bobby Evans making his first start against Khalil Mack, who’s arguably the best rush-end in the league and it was a non-factor,” Rams quarterback Jared Goff said. “He did his thing. He stepped up, he did his thing.
“We were doing different things to help them out, but not that much, to the point where he was just playing well.”
Evans said he was not nervous.
“You have a job to execute,” he said.
Blythe helped, Evans said.
“He was calling out everything,” Evans said. “For him to be able to handle that means a lot to somebody like me still learning.”
Robert Woods inactive
Receiver Robert Woods was not at the game because of what the Rams described as a personal issue. Coach Sean McVay said he learned a few hours before the game that Woods would not be available.
“It was a personal matter — that’s all we are going to say about that,” McVay said. “We love him, respect him, we are with him and his family all the way and that’s really where we will leave that at.”
McVay did not offer a timetable for Woods’ return.
“I don’t want to give a finite answer on that,” McVay said. “I most importantly want to be able to talk to him…. I talked to him before the game, but want to be able to check with him and out of respect for his family, that’s why we’re just kind of leaving it at what it is.”
Josh Reynolds had three catches for 55 yards. Cooper Kupp, who did not catch a pass in the Rams’ 17-12 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, had three catches for 53 yards, including one for 50 yards.
“We learned before the game what was going on [with Woods] and needed those guys to step up and they didn’t flinch,” Goff said. “I can’t stress enough of how proud I am of my teammates — specifically the guys that had to step up today.”
Tight ends contribute
Tyler Higbee was limited in practice last week because of a left knee injury. Gerald Everett was limited because of a wrist injury and Johnny Mundt was slowed by a groin problem. But the three tight ends played against the Bears and contributed in the running and passing attacks.
Mundt and Higbee were key blockers in the backfield and along the line of scrimmage in a game in which running back Todd Gurley had a season-high 25 carries and tied his season-high by rushing for 97 yards and a touchdown. (He also had 97 against Carolina.)
Everett caught a 20-yard pass during the fourth quarter to set up Malcolm Brown’s victory-clinching touchdown run.