Noots' Notes: Game 14

The Houston Texans showed they could better weather the elements at Soldier Field Sunday afternoon. They did a better job of holding onto the football, while taking advantage of and forcing numerous Bear turnovers. Let's take a closer look at the individual personnel groups.



Chad Hutchinson (17-34-168, Int., 3/0, 4 fumbles) did not have a very good game. He paid for his mistakes with blood money. Hutchinson ran for his life more and more as the game wore on, and on several occasions was sandwiched between pass rushers as he delivered the ball. The weather seemed to bother him more than most players, as he fumbled exchanges from center as well as the handoff to his running back. Although he only threw one interception, he was fortunate to not get picked off on several other passes (in the early going on a pass to Bobby Wade, and late in the game on a throw over the middle to Bernard Berrian). His interception before halftime was actually a very good decision, but a poorly thrown ball. He threw too short to Desmond Clark, and several defenders made a play on the ball. Clark had a step on the defense, and if the ball was out sooner and deeper it would have been a big gain. Hutchinson's best play of the game was a 20-yard completion to David Terrell that came after a pump fake and scramble to buy time. There were quite a few passes that were thrown short of the first down marker in crucial situations, and the final offensive play of the game was an exclamation point on this issue. He gets a badge of courage for not snapping in half after getting walloped, and had to endure another game with a handful of dropped passes. It still doesn't allow you to turn a blind eye on the miscues. GRADE: D

Running Backs

Thomas Jones (15/40, 7-37) and Anthony Thomas (6/21, 1-19) were fairly active in the first half, but then saw less action as the game wore on. Jones was a force on the Bears' opening drive running and receiving, as the Bears took the opening kick and marched into the Texans' red zone. He fumbled a handoff exchange with Hutchinson and the Texans took over at their own 15. The drive included a 14-yard reception for a 3rd down conversion, and a 5-yard gain on 4th and 1. He didn't have many highlights from there, and wasn't as good as usual in his pass blocking and chipping. Anthony Thomas came in the series after Jones' fumble and started off with a nice gain of 13 yards but was ineffective the rest of the game. He had an excellent reception for 19 yards on a screen up the right sideline. Jason McKie (1-7) played the entire game at fullback for Bryan Johnson and performed adequately. However, he got into the act with an early drop of a low pass that still should have been caught. Sure, the blocking could have been better, but the running backs could have given the team a boost if they could have broken a tackle for a big gain. It never happened. GRADE: D


David Terrell (3-41) had a huge reception for 20 yards early on, but then was more of a liability than an asset going forward. He dropped a medium range pass that hit him on the hands as he was facing the quarterback. It was knee high, but he was turning back to the ball and should have made the catch. Terrell was flagged for an illegal block in the back in the second half to cost the Bears a big gain on an excellent reception by Bobby Wade. Bobby Wade (2-23) took that short pass and made some people miss for a big gain. From that point on, he couldn't shut his mouth, eventually drawing a penalty from the sideline while the Bears' defense was on the field. Justin Gage (1-18) wasn't a factor until the end of the game with a reception, but then he dropped one along the sideline, too. Desmond Clark (1-14) made a key reception for a first down on 3rd and 10 for 14 yards. He also had a good block in the run game on an off tackle play for Jones, where he acted as a lead blocker. Bernard Berrian took a reverse for a big loss. Dustin Lyman struggled in pass protection. Overall, there were drops, penalties, and very few plays where receivers were open. GRADE: D

Offensive Line

Aaron Gibson played the entire game at right tackle and didn't play very well. Not only did he do very little on the run blocking side, but he was flagged twice for holding to bring back positive gains. Olin Kreutz committed yet another false start, this time flinching on a 3rd and 1 inside the Texans' red zone. This is the kind of mistake a team captain should not be making. It's the kind of mistake that plagued the Bears throughout the game. Kreutz made a nice block getting out for Anthony Thomas on a screen pass for 19 yards. Qasim Mitchell started at left tackle and wasn't doing poorly. In the 3rd quarter, he gave up a bit too much ground to Antwan Peek and was lifted for the balance of the game in favor of Marc Colombo. Colombo proceeded to disrupt whatever positive flow the offense might have been capable of. He was beaten time and again in both pass protection and run blocking. One of his missed blocks resulted in a huge tackle for loss for Thomas Jones. Steve Edwards finally returned to the solid form he had prior to his hamstring injury. He was a key in most of the positive plays in the first half, pulling to lead the way for Thomas Jones, or pulling on play action to pick up a block off the edge. Terrence Metcalf was not a factor, although he was uncovered on the blitz outside left tackle in the fourth quarter that led to a Hutchinson fumble and touchdown (Charlie Anderson scooped it up and ran 60 yards for the score). He folded around Colombo to try to make the blitz pickup but was a step too late. Pass protection was very good until the middle of the third quarter, when Mitchell had an issue with Peek, and then Colombo was put in. After that, the wheels fell off. Run blocking was sporadic, although the commitment to the run was fleeting at best. GRADE: D


Defensive Line

Adewale Ogunleye (2 tackles) could have been fitted with a pair of track shoes. He was chasing David Carr (13-29-220, TD, 6/8) all over the field. He had good pressure, in spite of being held, and not being officially credited for a sack (it's debatable whether or not one of the team sacks should have gone to him instead of Hunter Hillenmeyer after an 8-yard loss on a chase along the sideline). His pressure led directly to a safety, where Carr illegally grounded the ball from his end zone. Alex Brown (4 tackles, 2 PD) had 2 pass knockdowns and combined with Ian Scott (7 tackles) on a tackle for a loss. Scott had his best game as a Bear. He was a force inside, continually beating the center and right guard. He had a pressure, was involved in 2 tackles for a loss, and was in on numerous tackles near the line of scrimmage. Tank Johnson played well. He had a knockdown on Carr that resulted in an incomplete pass. He joined Ogunleye in the pressuring of Carr for a safety. Johnson also helped Mike Green register a tackle for a loss by driving the guard back into runner. Tommie Harris (1 tackle) played but wasn't a major factor. Alfonso Boone (2 tackles, sack) continued the relatively high level of play he has shown over the last month, nearly getting a sack on one play and getting a hit on Carr on another, which nearly sent the quarterback to the sideline. Israel Idonije saw some action but was not a factor. Michael Haynes had a couple of tackles against the run. Overall, the run defense and pass rush pressure was above average. GRADE: B


Hunter Hillenmeyer (5 tackles, sack) started at middle linebacker for the injured Brian Urlacher. He played well, as Domanick Davis (25/95, TD, 4-22) had very little room to run. Most of Davis' big yardage came from running out of and through tackles, instead of missed assignments. He's a tough runner, and while many folks think it was Bear weather, Davis appeared to thrive on the tough game conditions. Lance Briggs (5 tackles) continues to be all over the field and made some good tackles. Marcus Reese (1 tackle) started at strong side linebacker. He appeared lost and late for most of the game. When he wasn't lost or late, he was blocked. Maybe he's having trouble finding his way back to his preseason form. Hopefully this isn't as good as it gets for him. Joe Odom was nicked up and wasn't an option to get much action to spell Reese. Overall, pass coverage was good, and run stopping was average. GRADE: B-


R.W. McQuarters (5 tackles, PD) started at free safety. He wasn't much of a factor apart from the pass defended he had at the end of the half. Nathan Vasher had a tough time of it, allowing a 30-yard completion up the sideline to Andre Johnson before halftime. Jerry Azumah (4 tackles, 2 PD) allowed a 69-yard completion Jabar Gaffney (4-109). He also had a pass defended, and put a vicious hit on tight end Mark Bruener that separated him from the ball. Mike Green (7 tackles, 2 PD) was in on a host of big plays. He allowed a 37-yard touchdown pass to Corey Bradford (3-58, TD) that Carr threw perfectly for an over the shoulder connection. Green did a good job of taking on blocks at the point of attack against the run. He had two near interceptions. One was a really good deflection on a laser from Carr. The other was a deflected pass from Azumah that took forever to come down, and it appeared that Green waited for the ball to come to him and it fell short. All he had to do was step up and take the ball. The difference between winning and losing can come down to plays like this, as well as eliminating the errors on the offensive side. Charles Tillman was not a factor. Overall, this group had a couple of breakdowns scattered amidst a solid performance. Unfortunately, what will be remembered are the big plays they surrendered. GRADE: C+


Paul Edinger missed left on a 39-yard field goal early and then connected on a 43-yarder. His kickoff depth was average. He was intercepted on a fake field goal attempt. The pass was intended for Idonije, and it appeared to hit him and bounce off. It also appeared that Idonije was mugged by two defenders on the play but no flags were thrown. Brad Maynard punted well in spite of the elements. R.W. McQuarters had very little room to run on any of his returned punts. Jerry Azumah and Adrian Peterson were average on their kickoff returns. Peterson added a couple more special teams tackles to his team-leading total. Todd Johnson didn't pay attention to his body position on a punt return, and ended up tackling McQuarters on one of them. The Texans struggled punting the frozen ball, and were equally erratic kicking field goals. Maynard's kicking helped give the Bears field position that kept them in the game for about 3 quarters. GRADE: B-


If the hook on Qasim Mitchell is going to be so fast in order to get Marc Colombo into the game, then why not just start him? He was clearly overmatched from the minute he set foot on the field. The same coaches who felt it was time to lift Mitchell turned a blind eye to Colombo's ineffectiveness. What a difference a year makes. All the complaints about pass routes run and thrown to short of the first down markers are still there. Through the first half, the Bears seemed to be in the game as long as they kept running the ball. Because of the run, play action worked well and pass protection overall was solid. As soon as Terry Shea stopped relying on the run, the roof caved in. Houston didn't have a great deal of success running the ball either, but they kept hammering away and avoided the costly turnovers to beat the Bears. Jones and Thomas had 15 first half carries, but only 6 in the second half. Three offensive points was all they could muster against one of the league's lowest ranked defenses. The fake field goal attempt was a questionable call. Why not have the offensive regulars on the field and go for the first down in that situation, just as the Texans did in a similar situation to convert a 4th down against the Bears? The Bears' playoff hopes end here, in front of a frozen home crowd that deserves the ultimate accolades for being vocal and sticking by their team in spite of it all. GRADE: D


Steve Edwards
Ian Scott
Adewale Ogunleye
Alex Brown
Home fans in attendance


David Terrell
Marc Colombo
Offensive Line Coach Pete Hoener


Jerry Azumah on Mark Bruener

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