Bears shut down by Texans 13-6, Cutler leaves with concussion
BY SEAN JENSEN firstname.lastname@example.org November 11, 2012 10:37PM
Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler takes a hit from Houston Texans Tim Dobbins during the second quarter at Soldier Field in Chicago, Ill., on Sunday, November 11, 2012. | Andrew A. Nelles~Sun-Times Media
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Updated: November 12, 2012 5:33PM
The template worked so well during the Bears’ 7-1 start.
The offense staggers and struggles at the start, and the defense and special teams bail them out.
But that worked against NFL teams with losing records and sketchy playoff résumés. The Houston Texans are one of the best teams in the NFL, arguably the class of the AFC.
So the Texans weren’t handing out pick-sixes like a prize at the state fair, and they didn’t shoot themselves in the foot repeatedly with penalties and missed opportunities.
The Texans hardly played a great game, but they outplayed the Bears in a 13-6 victory Sunday night at Soldier Field. The result moved the Texans to 8-1 and dropped the Bears to 7-2.
The Texans’ third-ranked defense knocked out Bears quarterback Jay Cutler with a concussion for the second half and largely bottled up backup Jason Campbell, who completed 11 of 19 passes for 94 yards.
The Bears, who lead the league in takeaways, appeared to get one when they recovered a fumble on the opening kickoff. Upon review, though, Texans rookie Keshawn Martin was ruled to be down before Zack Bowman jarred the ball loose.
That was just a tease because momentum swung the other way. By the end of the first quarter, the Texans’ defense had forced three turnovers, with former Bears safety Danieal Manning intercepting a pass and forcing a fumble.
Somehow, though, the Bears trailed only 3-0.
The Texans opened a 10-3 lead midway through the second quarter on the strength of a seven-play, 66-yard drive that featured big runs by Arian Foster and Justin Forsett for a combined 46 yards. Foster, a perennial Pro Bowl running back, then made a diving two-yard touchdown catch with 4:14 left in the half.
On the ensuing series came the critical play. With the Bears facing third-and-nine, Cutler scrambled toward the line of scrimmage and completed a 42-yard pass to Devin Hester. After he released the ball, he was drilled in the head by Texans linebacker Tim Dobbins.
The officials reviewed the play and ruled Cutler was beyond the line of scrimmage, although it appeared his plant foot was behind it. Dobbins, meanwhile, was flagged for a personal foul for unnecessary roughness. The penalties offset, with Hester’s catch not counting.
On the next series, after the Bears’ defense forced a three-and-out, Cutler threw his second interception of the game.
The Bears trailed 10-3 at halftime, and Cutler was announced as out with a concussion.
The Bears schedule doesn’t get any easier, either. Next up is a game against the NFC West-leading San Francisco 49ers, a team that’s 6-2-1 after tying the St. Louis Rams, on ‘‘Monday Night Football.’’
After that, they return home to host the Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks, both of whom are 6-4.
The Bears did have the services of cornerback Charles Tillman, who last week said he might miss the game if his wife went into labor, and he shadowed perennial Pro Bowl receiver Andre Johnson.
But the defensive standout once again was fellow cornerback Tim Jennings, who intercepted two passes to increase his season total to eight.