Texans handle big chill like old pros

CHICAGO _ The Houston Texans may play home games in a retractable dome, but they knocked the lids off the cold-weather Bears Sunday in a 24-5 win at frosty Soldier Field.

"It's important to have a good defense and a good running game when you have to come out and play in these conditions," Texans coach Dom Capers.

The Texans had those ingredients with 106 rushing yards and a 3-4 defense, which held the Bears to 203 net yards. They even knew how to play the howling 20-25 mph winds in the minus-11 degree wind chill right by completing two long pass plays when they had the north wind at their back.

The Bears, on the other hand, could manage only 54 rushing yards and their defense gave up an uncharacteristically high 38 percent on third down conversions (6-of-16).

"I think it comes back to the mental toughness of the team," Capers said of the cold. "In every game you face circumstances that you have no control over and you have to learn to not let the outside circumstances affect your focus, and I thought our guys did that today."

Houston had never played in temperatures below 35 degrees until Sunday. The game Sunday was the 11th coldest in Bears history and seventh coldest at home. The coldest was in 1983 in the season-finale with Green Bay (minus-15 wind chill, 3 degrees).

Bears offensive and defensive linemen went without sleeves in the cold, while most of the Texans' players wore warmer clothing under their uniforms.

"I think the defense has an advantage in situations like this," Texans linebacker Kailee Wong said. "It's hard to play offense and throw against the wind.

"The field gets shortened down and that is to our advantage. This is the kind of football you get when you come up north in December."

The Bears didn't find the cold much more hospitable than the visitors, who had temperatures in the 50s and 60s last week at home.

"It was cold," said Bears quarterback Chad Hutchinson, who had never played in conditions that severe. "Just on some balls that wind was tough. There's some balls I thought were good balls and they'd come in short (of the receiver).

"They (Houston) had to deal with the conditions too."

Bears defensive tackle Tank Johnson, a native of Gary, Ind., thought the cold affected both sides even though both teams had heated benches and coats available on the sidelines.

"I have never played in weather this cold before," Johnson said. "To a point, it was fun, kind of like backyard football when you were a kid.

"It wasn't just us being cold, though. You would look into their huddle and they were shivering just like we were shivering in our huddle. That's what made it fun."

The wind and cold shortened the range for field goal kickers by 10 to 15 yards. Bears kicker Paul Edinger missed one wide left from 38 yards into the wind and Texans kicker Kris Brown missed one wide right from 42 yards.

Ultimately, the weather proved an equal detriment to both sides.

"The weather didn't have anything to do with how we played today," Bears coach Lovie Smith said.


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