The Chicago Bears held a 14-10 halftime lead over the Houston Texans in today's regular season opener, then the wheels fell off.
The Bears were outscored 13-0 in the second half, with the offense earning just four total first downs in the final two quarters.
"It's a game of halves, a game of quarters," CB Tracy Porter said after the game. "You have to play for four full quarters. When you don't do that and you only play for one half, the other teams have the ability to come back. That's what happened today."
The turning point came on the first drive of the second half. On second down, QB Jay Cutler was pressured in the pocket and fired a pass to WR Kevin White, running a 12-yard out route up the right seam. Yet White cut his route short and the pass was intercepted by Texans S Andre Hal.
"I'll talk to Kevin about it. It was his first game out there," Jay Cutler said. "It left my hand so it's my responsibility. It is what it is. He's going to be fine. We're not worried about him."
The Texans took a 14-13 lead off a field goal on the ensuing drive and Chicago's offense could not recover. The Bears punted on their following five drives and finished the game with a turnover on downs.
"We tried to come out with intensity and we wanted to get points that first drive and sometimes it's like that," WR Eddie Royal said. "You've got to give them credit, that's a good defense over there and they played well in the second half."
Alshon Jeffery led the Bears with 4 receptions for 105 yards, while Royal added 4 catches for 57 yards and an impressive TD in which he fooled the slot corner with a head fake. Yet White struggled in his first even NFL regular season game, catching just 3 of his team-high 7 targets for 32 yards.
Houston also brought a lot of pressure on passing downs and sacked Cutler six times. OLB Whitney Mercilus had two sacks, beating RT Bobby Massie and LT Charles Leno each for a sack apiece. Mercilus' second sack forced a fumble the Bears were lucky to recover.
"We can't be helping [Cutler] off the ground like that," Kyle Log said. "We should be patting him on the butt after touchdown passes."
Cutler completed 16 of 29 pass attempts for 216 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT, good for a 76.2 QB rating.
The offense converted just 3 of 13 third downs (31 percent), which was a huge reason for the overall inefficiency.
"Third down is always key in any game," Royal said. "We know that and we've got to play better on third down."
The rushing attack was inconsistent as well. Jeremy Langford rushed 17 times for 57 yards (3.4 ypc) and the Bears as a team averaged just 3.7 yards on the ground.
The defense played well in spots during the first half but Houston won the time of possession battle by more than 13 minutes, which eventually wore down Chicago's defense.
Texans QB Brock Osweiler finished with 231 passing yards, 2 TDs and 1 INT. After Porter's first-quarter interception, Osweiler settled into the game, which was made easy by an overall lack of pass rush.
The Bears didn't hit Osweiler until Danny Trevathan's sack at the end of the first half, while Eddie Goldman and Leonard Floyd split the only other Bears sack.
"We've got to execute better as a defense," rookie Leonard Floyd said.
ILB Jerrell Freeman led the team with 17 tackles, followed by Danny Trevathan with 11 tackles.
Texans RB Lamar Miller rushed for 105 yards on 28 carries (3.8 ypc), while rookie WR Will Fuller caught 5 passes for 107 yards and a TD.
Langford began the scoring with a 7-yard TD run in the first quarter. The Texans took a 10-7 lead in the second quarter following a 23-yard TD pass to WR DeAndre Hopkins, who finished with 5 catches for 54 yards. Houston K Nick Novak went 3-for-3 in field goal attempts.