Texans 13, Bears 6: Slugfest Win Just What Houston Needed
See pics: Texans fans celebrate win in chilly Chicago.
Phot by Marco Torres Gary Kubiak has a lot to think about
It seems an eternity ago, but it's been less than two years since many considered the Texans soft.
Led by second-year defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, the evolution is finally complete. The "Bulls on Parade" are now bullying long-established league bullies.
"I've been doing this a long time, and I don't know that I've ever been more proud of a team," said head coach Gary Kubiak.
Limited by rain, wind and a great Chicago defense, the Texans couldn't run their usual precision offense. Matt Schaub threw for just 95 yards, a career low for a full game, and had two interceptions. Andre Johnson caught only four passes despite being targeted nine times. The offense finished with a mere 215 yards.
The things the Texans historically do well went for nothing Sunday, all against a 7-1 opponent on the road. They still won convincingly and moved to an NFL-best 8-1 record.
"I think we showed that we can win any game, any situation, any time, any place," said star defensive end J.J. Watt. "It wasn't pretty, it wasn't clean, but we came out with a win."
What may have been most unclean were the jerseys of Chicago quarterbacks. The Texans knocked out Jay Cutler (concussion) in the first half and battered backup Jason Campbell in the second. Even though the defense recorded no sacks, Houston's physicality set the tone in forcing four turnovers and holding the Bears to a mere 2-of-13 on third downs.
"We were facing a defense who everybody said was better than ours," said defensive end Antonio Smith. "We wanted to go out and make a statement."
They certainly did. Here's a look at five players that made the biggest statements.
5.) Johnathan Joseph
At face value, this wasn't one of the cornerback's finer games. Joseph matched up with ace Chicago receiver Brandon Marshall and surrendered 107 yards on eight catches, frequently complaining about Marshall's physical play and seeking flags for offensive pass interference. They never came.
What made the outing noteworthy were the adjustments Joseph made in the fourth quarter. Realizing that officials were letting contact go, Joseph finally pushed back. It culminated with a 3rd-and-7 stop from the Houston 30, a play in which Joseph fought through Marshall to deny the pass. That forced a lengthy 48-yard field goal attempt, which the Bears missed. They never seriously threatened again.
Despite a brilliant game for the conditions, Marshall had just two catches for 17 yards in the final quarter. Joseph's adjustments were a big reason why.
4.) Kareem Jackson
Chicago receivers not named Brandon Marshall had a whopping three catches for 13 yards. For the entire game. That's largely because of blanket coverage from Kareem Jackson, who continues to make a case for being one of the best No. 2 cornerbacks in the league.
On this day, however, he did more than just deny passes. On a third down early in the first half, Jackson made a spectacular open-field tackle on Devin Hester, denying the speedy wideout the one yard he needed for a first down. And with the Bears on the verge of field goal range late in the second quarter, he slipped into zone coverage and baited Cutler into an interception, extinguishing the scoring threat.
Jackson is now tied for the AFC lead in interceptions with four on the season.