"He's the best quarterback we have," Smith said of Hutchinson, who completed 17 of 34 passes for 168 yards and an interception for a passer rating on 52.1. "Please don't try to blame all this on Chad. Chad was running for his life, a lot of pressure on him at times. He was competing hard. He gives us the best chance to win, period."
--Something that isn't quite as clear-cut is Smith's in game strategy. Leading just 10-5 with 6:43 left in the game, the Texans faced a fourth-and-7 at the Bears' 31-yard line. They took a deliberate delay-of-game penalty to run down the clock before the anticipated punt, but the Bears declined the penalty. So, the Texans decided to go for the first down, and David Carr completed an 8-yard pass to Corey Bradford for the first down.
By accepting the penalty, the Bears would have gotten the ball back after the punt.
"I thought what they were trying to do was take that (penalty) to move it back to (punt and) pin us down in," Smith said. "So we were trying to offset what they were trying to do. They got a chance to go for it in a fourth-down situation. We should still be able to convert in that situation."
Five plays later, Domanick Davis scored on an 11-yard run to give Houston a 17-5 lead with 4:23 left.
--S Cameron Worrell suffered a sprained ankle on the opening kickoff and did not return against Houston. He was placed on Injured Reserve Tuesday.
Worrell finished the season with career-highs of 10 defensive tackles and nine special teams tackles while playing in 13 games for the Bears.
With the additional roster spot the Bears claimed rookie safety Jerrell Pippens off waivers from San Diego. He played in four games with the Chargers this season.
With two games left on the schedule, coach Steve Mariucci isn't about to start experimenting for the 2005 season.
But there is a chance that at least a few of the team's young players -- including safety Terrence Holt -- will get increased playing time against Chicago and in the season finale at Tennessee.
Holt, who had an impressive rookie season when he was forced into duty at both cornerback and safety, shared the strong safety duty with Bracy Walker in the Lions' 28-27 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
"We wanted to get Terrence on the field a little bit," Mariucci said. "Bracy played 36 snaps, Terrence played 33. There were some packages Terrence was going to play in, even when Bracy was in there."
It is expected the Lions will replace one or both of their safeties during the offseason. Walker has been the strong safety starter since Brian Walker went on injured reserve a week before the opening game; Brock Marion has been the free safety.
Although Marion is valuable as an experienced, smart defensive back, the Lions need to get faster in both the strong and free safety positions.
Holt is projected as a free safety and is expected to take over at that position whenever Marion or the Lions decide he's had enough.
With two touchdown receptions Sunday in the 28-27 loss to Minnesota, Williams became the Lions' all-time rookie receiver touchdown king with seven, and his 722 receiving yards pushed him into first place in that category, too.
"That doesn't mean anything," Williams said. "We've lost nine games. I've never lost nine games ever in my life. Period. Not even on video games.
"It's hard. I can't wait to get these next two games over with. Hopefully we can win both of them."
With the two touchdown receptions against the Vikings, Williams broke a six-game scoring drought. He had two TDs in the second game of the season against Houston and two in the third game, against Philadelphia, in a fast start.
He scored his fifth touchdown against the New York Giants on Oct. 24 and hadn't scored since then.
Although Williams has had a good rookie season, he has been hampered since the Oct. 10 Atlanta game by a sprained left ankle.