Rapid Reaction: Texans 13, Bears 6
November, 11, 2012
By Michael C. Wright | ESPNChicago.com
CHICAGO -- Long lauded for toughness and durability, Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler suffered his second concussion over the last three seasons Sunday in his team's second loss of the season, a 13-6 defeat at the hands of the Houston Texans at Soldier Field.
The injury might bring into question Cutler's durability, considering he's missed time with a concussion in the past, in addition to a sprained knee that forced him out of the 2010 NFC Championship game and a broken thumb that knocked him out of the last six games of the 2011 season.
But the most significant impact of Cutler's injury is the fact it potentially jeopardizes his availability for Monday night's game at San Francisco.
Let's look closer.
What it means: Chicago's defense remains one of the league's best, but its performance against the Texans serves as somewhat of a wakeup call, and a message that there's still plenty of improvement to be made. For the team, the loss isn't too damaging. The Bears maintain the top spot in the NFC North, and lead the second-place Green Bay Packers by a game.
Too many turnovers: The Bears turned the ball over three times in the first quarter, but Houston turned only one of them -- an interception by former Bears safety Danieal Manning off Cutler -- into points (a 20-yard Shayne Graham field goal).
Chicago finished with four turnovers, which matches its high for the season that coincidentally came on Sept. 13, when the Bears lost 23-10 at Green Bay.
Even Chicago's opportunistic defense can't always match and cancel out that many giveaways. The Bears intercepted Matt Schaub twice, but like the Texans turned only one of the turnovers into points. Tim Jennings' interception early in the second quarter set up a Robbie Gould 51-yard field goal.
Leaning on Marshall: Entering the game on Sunday, Bears receiver Brandon Marshall had accounted for 37.9 percent of Chicago's targets, which ranked as the highest rate for a receiver in the NFL this season, according to ESPN Stats and Information.
Through three quarters on Sunday, Marshall had been targeted nine times with the receiver coming up with six catches for 90 yards. Marshall's nine targets accounted for 42.8 percent of the team's total targets in the first three quarters.
Interestingly, Marshall came into the game as the only receiver in the NFL with multiple drops on throws into the end zone this season (2), and he added another one in the second quarter when a long ball by Cutler in the second quarter bounced off his hands in the end zone with the Bears trailing. The drop forced the Bears to settle for a long field goal.
But despite Marshall's drops in the end zone, he still has two more catches (5) on throws to the end zone than he did in all of 2011 (3). In 2011, Marshall caught just 12 percent of the 25 balls thrown his way in the end zone.
He finished the game with eight catches for 107 yards, his second straight 100-yard performance and fifth of the season.
Forte a nonfactor: The Bears continue to talk about utilizing running back Matt Forte more, but the club failed to establish him against Houston's second-ranked rushing defense. Forte rushed for 39 yards on 16 attempts, and gave the team minus-2 yards on two receptions in the passing game.
The 37 yards from scrimmage marked Forte's lowest output of the season.
100 back to back: The Bears came into Week 9 with the league's best rush defense, surrendering just 77.9 yards per game, before ruining that by allowing Chris Johnson to rush for 141 yards. Johnson's 100-yard effort marked the first time the Bears allowed a 100-yard game since Week 5 of last season.
The Bears gave up another 100-yard game against the Texans to Arian Foster (102 yards), marking the first time the club allowed consecutive 100-yard outings since Weeks 13 and 14 of 2009, when Steve Jackson and Ryan Grant accomplished the feat.
What's next: The Bears will receive the next two days off before beginning preparation for a Monday night showdown at San Francisco. Through the first half of the season, the Bears faced just two teams (Indianapolis and Green Bay) with records of better than .500. After the loss to the Texans on Sunday, the Bears take on five teams in a row that have six wins.