They were wrong.
The Rams returned to the Edward Jones Dome and the Bears embarrassed them in a 37-13 loss. At 4-5, the Rams now find themselves looking for answers this week rather than building on momentum.
"I’m kind of lost for words," defensive tackle Michael Brockers said. "Nobody wants to lose like that. It hurts but we need to move on. We can’t linger on this one because it would be our downfall. Brush the dust off from this game and move to the next."
In reality, many players on the Rams roster have been through this before. Although it happened later in the season last year, the Rams appear to be following a similar, equally disappointing script.
Near the end of the 2014 season, the Rams dominated Oakland and Washington before losing a heartbreaker to Arizona and laying an egg against the New York Giants. This year, you can sub in Cleveland and San Francisco for the Raiders and Redskins, the Vikings for the Cardinals and the Bears for the Giants.
Even after the disappointing overtime loss to Minnesota, the Rams believed they were far enough along in Year 4 under Jeff Fisher that games like last week's wouldn't happen anymore.
"Everybody kind of had an agreement, this is a new start to our season," tight end Jared Cook said. "This is our chance to put our stamp on the season. We were at the halfway mark and it's time to become a new team, it’s time to become a better team than what we just played ... time to put something better out there on the field than what we just played. I think everybody still believes that. I'm not going to say it's panic time, but it's time to get this train rolling."
Maybe it isn't panic, time but it's an absolutely critical time if the Rams are going to make something of their season. After the Week 6 bye, many viewed the Rams' schedule as lightening up enough for them to go on a run. Some thought 3-1 or even 4-0 was possible in those first four games after the bye with a trip to play two-win Baltimore after that looking like another possible victory.
As has often been the case with Fisher's Rams, however, the consistently inconsistent performances have persisted. That's particularly true when they venture outside of the NFC West. So far this year, the Rams are 3-0 against division opponents and 1-5 against non-NFC West teams. The loss to the Bears dropped the Rams to 0-3 against the NFC North this year and 1-8 since Fisher arrived in 2012.
Now the Rams must go on the road for back-to-back games against the difficult AFC North.
To stay in the mix or have a shot to keep this from being yet another lost season, the Rams have to pick up the pieces in short order. After last week's loss, end William Hayes sat in his locker staring at his phone while his teammates dressed and left. He was noticeably angry. About 30 minutes later, he'd showered and changed but was still angry.
"No, it’s not time to panic," Hayes said. "It’s time to just fix [stuff]. We have got to go out there and play better football next week. Defensively, we have got to just make plays. That’s the name of the game. We have got to make plays, give our offense a chance to get points and when they get the opportunity they have got to score."
It sounds like a simple solution but with these Rams, that which seems simple never really is.