Bears-Texans rematch in Super Bowl?

938949.png

Bears-Texans rematch in Super Bowl?

An ugly home loss to the Houston Texans was a tough pill for Bears fans to swallow Sunday night, but as bad as the Bears played they were in the game until the very end with the best team in the AFC.

So could the Bears and Texans meet again, possibly on a much larger stage, in the Super Bowl?

Yeah, I think it would be a heck of a rematch, especially on a better field, Texans defensive end Antonio Smith said. Our vision and our dream is to get to the Super Bowl and there aint no shame in saying that.

And why are the Bears worthy?

Because they got a heck of a defense, Smith said. When you have a defense that can give you more chances to score, youre going to be a successful team. Even though people may talk about Jay Cutler and things like that, when hes on he can be a great quarterback.

Mannings return to the Windy City

Texans safety Danieal Manning was a second round draft pick by the Bears in 2006 and spent five seasons in Chicago. But, before the 2011 season he and the team decided to part ways and now Manning is flourishing in his home state of Texas.

Sunday night, Manning had an interception and forced a fumble in the opening half against his former team.

Honestly its a just the nature of the beast with this game on the business side, Manning said. They made a great decision and I feel like the DBs they have is good for them, and I made a good decision by coming here.

Manning and Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher had a moment just after Mannings early interception.

He gave me the thumbs up and I gave him thumbs up back, Manning said. Hes always had my back and I have the same respect for him and all of those guys over there, even the coaching staff.

Power outage

Houston defensive end J.J. Watt came into Sundays game the NFL leader with 10.5 sacks and he left town at the top of the list. Surprisingly, the most elite defensive player in the league was not allowed to get to the quarterback by a Bears offensive line that has had some problems in the past with pass rushers.

Obviously there werent many opportunities for sacks out there, Watt said. We had to shut down the run and I think we did a good job of that. Anytime you can win a game like this in a tough situation on the road its very impressive. Were proud of ourselves today.

Whos better?

The Bears defense has shined brightly by becoming a turnover machine in 2012. A week ago, Charles Tillman had four forced fumbles against the Tennessee Titans and the defense was considered by many the best in the NFL heading into Sunday nights matchup with the Texans.

You hear a lot about their defense, Houston cornerback Johnathan Joseph said. "Sometimes our defense is overshadowed, because of what they do so much with taking the ball away. Today we did a great job of taking the ball away and playing great defense.

Joseph confirmed that the Texans defensive unit was vocal coming into the game about not playing second fiddle to the Bears.

Most times theyre the ones getting the turnovers, Joseph said. We responded with our own turnover run as well and got four in the first half. In a game like this thats the difference.

Foster the people

Texans running back Arian Foster was handed the ball 29 times and accumulated 102 yards on the ground, while also catching five passes for 15 yards and atouchdown Sunday night against the Bears. There is no doubt his effectiveness is a big reason the Bears are 7-2 and the Texans are 8-1.

This is what you play for," Foster said. "You play for big games and you play to help the team out when they need you the most. I didnt play a perfect game, but I felt like I did okay tonight. It was a great win for us, it really was. We control our own destiny in this thing and thats a good feeling.

Five Things from Blackhawks-Canucks: Corey Crawford rebounds

Five Things from Blackhawks-Canucks: Corey Crawford rebounds

The Blackhawks’ starts have been all over the map this season but their finishes have usually been strong. That was the case again on Sunday night as the Blackhawks took a lead, lost a lead and regained a lead for good in their 4-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks.

This one featured a little bit of everything. So let’s just get to the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ victory over Vancouver.

1. Jonathan Toews breaks through. If the Blackhawks captain’s confidence was a little shaken with his lack of scoring this season, it should’ve gotten a boost with his Sunday outing. Toews’ goal and three assists were as big for him as they were the Blackhawks, who needed every bit of it late against the Canucks. In his last 12 games Toews has three goals and eight assists. He’s getting there. Said coach Joel Quenneville, “it seems like he was around the puck way more and when he does that, usually good things happen.”

2. Great start. This hasn’t been written very often but it was more than evident on Sunday night. If this wasn’t the Blackhawks’ best opening period of the season it was pretty close, as they broke out to a 2-0 lead against the Canucks. The Blackhawks, outside of a 3 ½-minute sequence without a shot on goal, were tenacious and ready to shoot, taking an 18-9 shots-on-goal edge in that first.

3. Corey Crawford rebounds. Quenneville considered Scott Darling for this game, an understandable thought with Darling coming off a 30-stop shutout. But he wanted Crawford to get back to where he was prior to his appendectomy, and Crawford took a step in that direction on Sunday night. In stopping 25 of 27 shots Crawford got his 18th victory of the season and 200th of his career. Quenneville said Crawford “looked like he was in control.”

[SHOP: Get your Blackhawks gear right here]

4. Michal Kempny’s tough stretch. When Kempny has been good this season he’s been very good. When he’s been bad... The defenseman was in the penalty box when the Canucks scored their first goal and he was beaten by Bo Horvat on the Canucks’ second goal. Kempny didn’t play the final 14 minutes of the game. Quenneville, who liked what Kempny brought on the team’s road trip, said Kempny just has to work through some things. “Coverage with awareness and knowing sometimes it’s man coverage, sometimes it’s playing the puck and clearing the loose stuff,” Quenneville said. “Defenseman is a tough position as you’re growing and learning it, but the more you play the better you play and I still think he’s making progress.”

5. Brian Campbell gets to keep No. 500 this time. Campbell thought he had his 500th point against the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night but it was taken away. Well he got it back on Sunday night, setting up Richard Panik’s 11th goal of the season in the first period.

Jonathan Toews' four-point night paces Blackhawks past Canucks

Jonathan Toews' four-point night paces Blackhawks past Canucks

Jonathan Toews has been doing a lot of things right this season. The offensive production, however, has been hit and miss as the Blackhawks' captain looked for the same consistency on the score sheet he had in the rest of his game.

On Sunday, he hit pay dirt.

Toews recorded a four-point night, including the game-winning goal, and Corey Crawford won his 200th career game as the Blackhawks beat the Vancouver Canucks 4-2 on Sunday night. The Blackhawks remain in second place in the Western Conference. They and the Minnesota Wild each have 65 points, but the Wild still have three games in hand.

It was a milestone night for a few Blackhawks. Marian Hossa had an empty-net goal late to record his 400th point in a Blackhawks uniform. Toews' three assists put him 13th all-time among Blackhawks in that category with 331. Brian Campbell recorded his 500th career point.

Richard Panik had a goal and an assist.

The Blackhawks had arguably their best start of the season in this one, outscoring the Canucks 2-0 (Panik and Patrick Kane) and outshooting them 18-9. But in less than a minute in the third period, the Blackhawks lost the lead, thanks to Troy Stecher's power-play goal and Bo Horvat's rebound goal.

[SHOP BLACKHAWKS: Get your Blackhawks gear right here]

But Toews, who played his part in the Blackhawks' start, was there for the finish. Panik's late third-period shot caromed off the backboard and went right to Toews, who scored for the 3-2 lead with 1:18 remaining in regulation.

"I guess the goals have scored lately are just getting those bounces and being in the right spot at the right time. Nice to get that one on my stick," Toews said. "I just keep telling Hartsy (Ryan Hartman) and Panner to keep shooting — they both have unbelievable shots — and we're going to generate stuff whether it hits the end wall, goes in or hits the guy's pads. We'll find something around the net. It's nice to get that bounce late in the game."

The Blackhawks had some bad luck — and Michal Kempny had a rough shift or two — during the Canucks' third-period comeback. It was a bit of frustration at the time, but coach Joel Quenneville said the Blackhawks kept their cool.

"I still thought we didn't get away from our game at that point, which could have happened," he said. "Finding a way to get it to overtime or scoring a late goal tonight is something our guys have been good at. Just (the) play at the net, Johnny in the right spot with the finish. I still thought we kept our composure at that point."

Crawford, meanwhile, stopped 25 of 27 shots and looked better than he has in some recent outings.

"We gave him some looks where he could feel comfortable again, and he had some great plays in close from post to post on their power plays, especially in the second," Toews said. "He was finding them all night. Nice to see Crow play the way he did tonight and obviously he was a big part, as usual, in the win."

The Blackhawks had a bit of a gaffe early in the third period, but they were able to weather it. Toews has been steady in most facets of his game this season but was looking to build on his production. Sunday’s game was a step in the right direction.