It had the makings of the great games of both recent and past vintage. In the ‘70s, it might have been Redskins/Cowboys (on Thanksgiving, perhaps) or Raiders/Steelers. In the ‘80s or ‘90s, it might have been Cowboys/Niners or Packers/Niners.
More recently, it might have been Steelers/Ravens or Colts/Patriots. But these were new combatants. Bears vs. Texans? A potential Super Bowl showdown? You bet it is.
Two 7-1 teams both at the top of their games. The winner of this game would undoubtedly be hailed as the best team in the NFL, especially with the Falcons losing earlier in the day.
And it would be seen by a national audience, with its own spotlight on Sunday Night Football. This is truly as good as the NFL gets.
Hit the title/continue reading to read on. . .
Great NFL matchups frequently play out like title fights. The boxers circle each other and test their jabs. In this case, the Houston offense went 3 and out, but got the ball right back courtesy of a fumble. Then the Texans put together a drive. The Bears defense was bent, but didn’t break, holding the Texans to 3. On the ensuing drive, the Bears made the first gutsy call of the night, going for it on 4th and 1 from the Houston 43, but an 11 yard run and apparent first down by Michael Bush was spoiled by another fumble, and the Texans defense led the takeaway battle, supposedly the Bears’ stronghold, 2-0. That wouldn’t last long. Tim Jennings snared an interception to end the ensuing Texans drive and give the Chicago offense a short field, starting on Houston’s 43. Jab, jab, punch, counterpunch. Stick and move.
But could the Texans return the favor? Yes. Former Bear Daniel Manning intercepted a Jay Cutler deep ball at the 5 yard line, marking the fourth turnover in the first quarter, 3 of them by Chicago. A 3-0 game in the first quarter was probably something a lot of people expected, but it’s hard to imagine anyone would have expected it to get there like this. And while the Bears only trailed by 3, the turnovers were killing their time of possession, leaving their excellent defense out on the field for nearly 10 minutes in the first. On the flipside, of course, was the fact that the Texans had forced three turnovers and had only 3 points.
And sure enough, it wasn’t over yet. Tim Jennings notched his second interception of the game on the very next drive, marking the fifth turnover of a game that was that not even 16 minutes old. And this time the Bears had a VERY short field, starting inside the 40. The Bears weren’t able to move the ball, but Robbie Gould was able to tie the game at 3. At least there wasn’t another turnover. Clearly, both defenses came to play. But there was also an undeniable trend. While neither passing game was working, Houston was moving the ball on the ground, and the Bears weren’t moving it all.
That came to full fruition with 4 minutes to go in the first half as the Texans capped off a 66 yard touchdown drive, 55 of it on the ground. 10-3 Texans, and the Bears were going to need the offense to find a way to stay on the field as the Bears defense was wearing down. This was where Chicago needed Jay Cutler to step up, but instead, he threw another pick with 2:00 to go. Four turnovers by the Bears’ offense in the first half. No way was Chicago gonna win this game if they didn’t turn that around. And they’d have to do it without Jay Cutler, who suffered a concussion at the end of the first half. Jason Campbell would have to finish the game.
Tim Jennings makes one of his two interceptions vs. Houston
To his credit, Campbell came out in the third quarter and moved the Bears, even though the running game remained futile. A big play connection to Brandon Marshall set up a second Robbie Gould field goal, and Chicago had life with 2:00 to go in the third, thanks in part to the tough Chicago defense forcing the Texans into three straight 3 and outs while the Bears struggled to find a way to get back in it. But it would not be enough. Houston added a field goal late in the fourth, and Chicago simply couldn’t get anything going offensively. The final would read 13-6, Texans.
Arian Foster was relentless, albeit not dominating in this game, finishing with 102 yards on 29 carries. On the Bears side, Brandon Marshall had 8 catches for 100+, but he was literally the only Bears offensive player whose stats weren’t shameful. Both defenses were positively magnificent, both in terms of forcing turnovers and in terms of shutting down every opposing weapon. For fans who love offense, this probably wasn’t their favorite game, but it certainly lived up to the hype in terms of two terrific teams playing 60 minutes of tough, physical football.
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