Another dominant "D" performance, "teams" keep Texans in check
The Houston Texans came to Soldier Field averaging 29.6 points per game, second in the NFL. They left with a win on just 13 and a season-low 215 yardsbecause of individual and collective performances in all position groups.
Houston wide receiver Andre Johnson had three catches in the first quarter, one in the second and none in the second half. Running back Arian Foster had 85 yards in the first half, 17 in the second. The Bears had eight tackles for loss, sacked unsackable Matt Schaub and kept the Bears in a game that the offense was unable to be part of.
DEFENSIVE LINE A-
Against one of the most proficient offenses in the NFL, the front Julius Peppers collected a fourth-quarter sack of Schaub, only the 11th time all year he has been sacked. Peppers, Henry Melton, Nate Collins and Israel Idonije all had at least one tackle for loss. Melton had six tackles total, Idonije five and Peppers four.
Corey Wootton, who had a quarterback hit, played heavy minutes with Shea McClellin gone after one series with a concussion.
Brian Urlachers tackle for loss late in the second quarter and quick call for time out gave a chance for a last Bears possession of a very bad half. His pursuit on wide plays was in the style of his early years and had a second tackle for loss among his team-high eight tackles, seven solo.
Lance Briggs (four tackles) and Nick Roach (two) were instrumental in controlling Foster, maintaining gap integrity and picking through Houstons zone blocking to disrupt run plays. Roach played 84 percent of the snaps, with the Texans using an extra lineman in a number of base offense packages and limited use of nickel groups, and added 16 special teams plays.
The Bears locked down on Andre Johnson as the game went on zero catches in the second half. Schaub missed on only eight of his passes: two were Tim Jennings interceptions and five were broken up by the two corners
Jennings saved the Bears from a first-half rout with two interceptions, giving him a Pro Bowl eight (never hurts to do that on the national NBC game).
Charles Tillman had six solo tackles and two pass breakups, while Jennings added three breakups to his INTs.
Major Wright had five solo tackles, one for loss, and Chris Conte had four.
Personnel groupings and matchups were adjusted well on the fly against a balanced offense with firepower in both run and pass. Adjustments were made in run defense and the coverage on Johnson varied enough to take him out of the game in the second half.
A one-score game was one return away from being evened but Houston was able to prevent Devin Hester from getting loose. Coverage units allowed the Texans little field position, the second half beginning with Houston starting at its 3-, 16- and 11-yard lines.
Robbie Gould gave the Bears a big boost with a 51-yard field goal in the second quarter when the offense was doing little with the turnovers from Tim Jennings. He added another from 24 yards but hit the left upright from 48 yards early in the fourth quarter. A creditable performance with horrendous footing because of rain.
Adam Podlesh punted five times for a 38.8-yard average, placing two inside the 20.
The Texans had zero return yardage on the five Podlesh punts. Keyshawn Martin returned three kickoffs for an average of 22 yards, none longer than 23 yards. Zackary Bowman forced a fumble that was recovered by Blake Costanzo but overturned on booth review.
Devin Hester provided a spark (wasted by a subsequent turnover) with a 24-yard return of Houstons punt after a three-and-out. The Texans allowed him just seven yards on two other returns and kicked away from him to blunt that threat.
Houstons return game was controlled with no runback longer than the 23 yards on Martins one kickoff return. The Texans schemed to stop Hester.