From the press box - 2:51 p.m.As he has all season, rookie running back Steve Slaton came alive late in the game, and in doing so has put the Texans up 31-17 on a two-yard touchdown run with 3:24 remaining. Slaton had nine 9 carries for 69 yards on the drive and now has 86 yards rushing in the game.
A few plays before his score, there was almost a catastrophic turn of events for the Texans. Two plays after his 47-yard scamper, Slaton ran 15 yards for what would have been a back-breaking touchdown - but the score was nullified by a holding penalty on right guard Mike Brisiel that was not received warmly by the Houston crowd.
On the very next play, the officials ruled that Slaton fumbled the ball after a one-yard gain, and the Bears recovered at the Chicago 21-yard line. Kubiak challenged the play, and the call was reversed after officials determined that Slaton's left elbow was down before the ball came loose. The Texans won a challenge for the first time all season. Good timing.
I'm going down to the field to prepare for postgame coverage. Be sure to tune into Texans TV after the game for live postgame press conferences featuring Gary Kubiak, Andre Johnson, Matt Schaub and more. Send in your questions for HoustonTexans.com's Q&A with Kubiak tomorrow after his 3:30 p.m. press conference, which will air on Texans TV. Thanks for stopping by.
From the press box - 2:42 p.m.Steve Slaton just broke off a 47-yard run that may have given him the rookie rushing title. He came into the game trailing the Titans' Chris Johnson by 38 yards, and he has 66 yards today after his run down to the Chicago 29-yard line. Johnson has no carries in the Titans' game against the Indianapolis Colts, since the Titans already have clinched the No. 1 seed in the AFC.
On the next play, Andre Johnson caught a 14-yard pass over the middle. It was his 10th catch of the game, and he now has 148 receiving yards.
From the press box - 2:37 p.m.
Another good stop by the Texans' defense despite being started in a hole. They allowed one first down - a 10-yard catch up the middle by Olsen - but forced an incompletion on third-and-eight from the Houston 39-yard line. With the Bears out of Robbie Gould field goal range, they punted to the Houston 10-yard line. The Texans are 9:35 away from finishing the season 8-8 and keeping the Bears out of the playoffs.
Today's paid attendance is 70,838, the largest crowd in Texans history. The Texans have sold out all 70 games in team history.
From the press box - 2:30 p.m.A 22-yard Kris Brown field goal gives the Texans a 24-17 lead with 11:55 left in the game. The Texans were unable to get into the end zone from first-and-goal at the five-yard line. Schaub's pass for David Anderson on third-and-four fell incomplete, and no flag was thrown for pass interference even though it looked like there was plenty of contact applied by Bears cornerback Charles Tillman on the play.
The Bears already have the ball near midfield, though. Danieal Manning returned Brown's ensuing kickoff 49 yards to the Chicago 48-yard line, from where Orton and the Bears will try to keep their playoff hopes alive with less than 12 minutes to play.
Schaub is now 25-of-34 for 303 yards and two touchdowns. It's the fourth time this season he's thrown for 300 yards, which is a franchise record.
From the press box - 2:21 p.m.Big play - Schaub goes up the middle for one yard on a quarterback keeper on fourth-and-one from the six-yard line. First down, Texans, at the five-yard line, with 13:25 and counting left to play.
From the press box - 2:16 p.m.The third quarter has come to an end with the Texans leading 21-17. When the fourth quarter begins, Houston's offense will be facing second-and-15 from the Chicago 20-yard line. Guard Chester Pitts was flagged for holding on first-and-10 from the Houston 15, pushing the Texans back 10 yards.
So far, the big play of this drive came on third-and-one from the Chicago 48-yard line. Schaub faked a handoff and rolled left, planted his feet and threw a bomb to his right to tight end Owen Daniels for 33 yards. Schaub is 23-of-31 for 289 yards and two touchdowns through three quarters, and he has eclipsed the 3,000-yard passing mark for the first time in his career.
From the press box - 2:11 p.m.The Minnesota Vikings just fell behind 16-10 to the New York Giants on a touchdown pass by none other than former Texans quarterback David Carr. If the Vikings lose, the Bears would clinch the NFC North if they can beat the Texans. But the Texans just got their best starting field position of the game following a 12-yard punt return by Jacoby Jones to the Houston 43-yard line.
The Texans forced the Bears into a three-and-out on three consecutive incompletions by Orton.
Injury update: Mario Williams suffered a strained groin. His return questionable.
From the press box - 2:03 p.m.The Bears closed the gap to 21-17 with 5:30 remaining in the third quarter on a one-yard touchdown pass from Orton to tight end Greg Olsen. The play capped a seven-play, 77-yard drive. Olsen's touchdown was set up by a 37-yard pass to Devin Hester at the one-yard line.
From the press box - 1:56 p.m.While we're at a break in the action, I'll take this opportunity to give a shoutout to Texans TV's Brooke Bentley. She is normally with our media staff in the press box during games, but today she's been MC'ing for the Reliant Stadium videoboard along with FSN's Patti Smith, giving out prizes and interviewing one fan each quarter on "Fan Appreciation Day" at Reliant. Brooke also co-hosted the halftime show with Patti on the field.
But don't worry - she'll be back with HT.com as soon as the game is through in our postgame video content. She'll also be participating in our final Texans Q&A of the season tomorrow with head coach Gary Kubiak after his weekly 3:30 press conference. Click here to send in a question for Kubiak today.
From the press box - 1:50 p.m.Touchdown, Ryan Moats - his first since 2005 - on a two-yard run, and the score is 21-10 Houston. Moats was on the Texans' practice squad in Week 5 but has more carries (10) than Slaton (7) today.
Schaub picked apart the Bears' secondary to lead the Texans down the field. He completed passes to Johnnson (21 yards), Slaton (17), Kevin Walter (23) and Andre Davis (nine). Schaub has 233 passing yards today with a 72 percent completion percentage. His quarterback rating is 127.6.
From the press box - 1:42 p.m.Rookie safety Dominique Barber sacked Orton for a nine-yard loss on third-and-six near midfield. That's how you want to start a half defensively. The Bears had a chance to get some momentum back and perhaps re-take the lead in a 14-10 game, but it wasn't to be thanks to Barber's first-career sack.
In not-so-positive news, Pro Bowl defensive end Mario Williams was injured on the play. He walked off the field under his own power but had to be taken to the locker room shortly thereafter. We'll report on his status as soon as possible.
From the press box - 1:34 p.m.Halftime by the numbers:
14-10: The score, in favor of the Texans
10-0: The score with 5:51 left in the second quarter, in favor of the Bears
205-137: Total yards, in favor of the Texans
16:36-13:24: Time of possession, in favor of the Texans
101: Receiving yards for wideout Andre Johnson, on seven receptions
207:Receiving yards Johnson finished with the last time he had a 100-yard first half
2: Receiving touchdowns for Johnson
8: Receiving touchdowns for Johnson this season, which ties the franchise record
127.7: Passer rating for quarterback Matt Schaub, on 14-of-20 passing
122: Passing yards Schaub needs to reach 3,000 for the first time in his career
24: Rushing yards for running back Ryan Moats, a season-high
19: Rushing yards for rookie running back Steve Slaton
45: Rushing yards for Bears rookie running back Matt Forte
27.3: Average for Andre' Davis on three kickoff returns
5: Tackles for linebacker DeMeco Ryans, a team-high
The Bears will receive to start the second half.
From the press box - 1:23 p.m.Third-and-six from the Houston 41-yard line, cornerback Fred Bennett made a play to help force an incompletion on Orton's pass intended for Brandon Lloyd. Bennett might have been able to intercept the pass, but Lloyd pushed off of Bennett at the last second and was flagged for offensive interference, The Texans declined the penalty since the Bears were going to punt, anyway.
Brad Maynard's punt went out of bounds at the Texans' seven-yard line. The Texans ran out the remaining 38 seconds on the clock and went into the locker room with a 14-10 lead that seemed far from probable only six minutes ago.
From the press box - 1:15 p.m.Superlatives cannot describe Andre Johnson, so I won't try to come up with any. He literally just took a jump ball away from 6'1" cornerback Charles Tillman - a fine cornerback in his own right - on third-and-goal from the three to give the Texans a 14-10 lead with Kris Brown's extra point.
Johnson has 101 yards receiving and two touchdowns this half on seven receptions. It's his eighth 100-yard game of the season. He now has had 100 yards in a half five times in his career, and it's the second consecutive home game in which he's had 100 receiving yards in the first half. He finished with 207 yards the last time he did it, two weeks ago against the Titans.
From the press box - 1:10 p.m.At the two-minute warning, the Texans face a third-and-goal from the three-yard line. Houston is 28th in the league in red zone conversion percentage this season, with only 43.86 percent of their trips inside the 20-yard line resulting in scores. They have an NFL-high 13 possessions in the red zone without a score.
From the press box - 1:07 p.m.How quickly things can change in football. Ryan Moats forced a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, and kicker Kris Brown got a rare chance to get his hands on the ball with a recovery at the Chicago 38-yard line.
With 6:00 left on the clock, the Texans were down 10-0 and had played a mostly lifeless game. Not 20 seconds of game time later, they're down only 10-7 and have a fresh set of downs in Chicago territory with a revved-up Reliant Stadium crowd behind them.
From the press box - 1:02 p.m.
Touchdown, Andre Johnson, and the gap is closed to 10-7. Johnson ran right by the Bears' secondary on the left sideline, and Schaub found his wide open Pro Bowl receiver for a 43-yard touchdown. Johnson caught the pass at the 13-yard line and carried a defender on his back from the five-yard line into the end zone. Johnson, who entered the game leading the NFL in receiving yards, now has 92 yards on five catches with 5:50 left in the first half. Could another 200-yard game be on the horizon for 'Dre?
Prio to the score, the Texans got a breath of fresh air with a long-awaited first down - only their fourth of the game - with a 17-yard pass from Schaub to Johnson at the 9:22 mark of the second quarter. The play moved the Texans to their own 30-yard line, and Schaub hit Johnson again for a 12-yard gain two plays later.
Moats was in at tailback in place of Slaton on the scoring drive. Moats had an eight-yard run for a first down and now has 17 yards on five carries.
From the press box - 12:55 p.m.Cue the Super Mario Bros. theme song- Mario Williams to the rescue when the Texans needed him most. The Bears started a drive in Texans territory after Houston went three-and-out with three passes for zero yards (two incompletions, one completion for no gain) by Schaub. On third-and-six from the Houston 45-yard line, Williams blew up the right tackle and sacked Orton for a 10-yard loss to force a punt.
From the press box - 12:50 p.m.Looks like I spoke too soon about the Bears' offense. Forte had been averaging 4.9 yards per carry, but the Texans stopped him from getting a first down on two carries starting with a second-and-three at the Chicago 45-yard line. Defensive tackle Amobi Okoye brought down Forte after a two-yard gain on second down, and Okoye teamed up with Jeff Zgonina to stop Forte for a one-yard loss on third-and-one.
Interestingly enough, that was a tackle by the Texans' oldest (Zgonina - 38) and youngest (Okoye - 21) defensive players.
From the press box - 12:44 p.m.The Bears are moving the ball at will against the Texans. Running back Matt Forte has 44 rushing yards and is averaging 4.9 yards per carry. Quarterback Kyle Orton has only one incompletion in nine attempts and has thrown for 71 yards and a touchdown.
After the Texans' punt, Texans coach Gary Kubiak huddled the entire offense up on the Houston bench. It was hard to see particulars from up high in the press box, but it sure didn't look like he was patting them all on the back.
From the press box - 12:40 p.m.After Schaub's beautiful throw put the Texans into Bears territory, two Houston penalties have pushed the Texans all the way back to their own 35-yard line. The first-down marker was at the opposite 30-yard line.
The first penalty came on first-and-10 from the Chicago 40-yard line. After Moats had a one-yard run, tight end Owen Daniels was penalized 15 yards for unneccessary roughness for hitting a Bears player who already was down. On the next play, Schaub hurried to get a pass off under a heavy pass rush. His throw fell to the ground to the left side of the field, and the Bears picked it up and ran it back for a would-be touchdown. But after much deliberation, the officials ruled that it was an incomplete pass and intentional grounding on Schaub. So the Texans kept the ball, but they lost a down and moved back 10 more yards to set up the third-and-34.
Schaub handed off to Slaton on the next play. Slaton gained six yards, but a shower of boos rained down from the rafters from unhappy fans watching a sloppy series by their home team. Matt Turk's punt was fair caught by Hester at the 14-yard line. The first quarter ended with the Bears up 10-0.
From the press box - 12:35 p.m.Kubiak obviously isn't too happy about Slaton's fumble. Seldom-used running back Ryan Moats is now in the game for Slaton. He gained two rushing yards on the Texans' first play of the current drive and has not left the field yet.
Quarterback Matt Schaub just threaded the needle through three Bears defenders on third-and-eight for a 33-yard pass to Andre' Davis. The throw put Houston into Chicago territory at the 40-yard line.
From the press box - 12:31 p.m.The Texans' defense limited the Bears to a 37-yard field goal after the turnover. The score is now 10-0 Chicago at the 3:30 mark of the first quarter.
The Bears gained a first down on their first play on a 13-yard pass from Orton to Forte, but they couldn't move the chains again. Bennett tackled Hester short of the first down marker on third-and-seven from the 22-yard line, forcing a fumble on the play that bounced backward and out of bounds at the Houston 19-yard line.
From the press box - 12:26 p.m.Wide receiver Andre' Davis tried to kick-start something for the Texans with a 39-yard kickoff return to the Houston 42-yard line. Any momentum provided by Davis' nifty return evaporated into the rainy air of Reliant Stadium when running back Steve Slaton fumbled the ball on the Texans' second play. Slaton fumbled at the end of a six-yard catch-and-run when he was stripped by cornerback Charles Tillman. Bears end Alex Brown recovered the ball, and the Bears will start in Houston territory at the 38-yard line.
It initially looked like Slaton might have been down on the play, but replays clearly showed that the ball popped loose before his knees touched the ground. Coach Gary Kubiak did not challenge the play.
From the press box - 12:20 p.m.The Bears drove 80 yards down the field in 10 plays to take a 7-0 lead with 5:57 remaining in the first quarter. Quarterback Kyle Orton abused the Texans' cornerbacks on the drive, going five-of-five for 48 yards, including a four-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Lloyd over cornerback Dunta Robinson.
On third-and-six from the Houston 48-yard line, the Texans' defense was on the precipice of a big stop. But Orton completed a 15-yard pass to the right to receiver Devin Hester, who was being covered by Fred Bennett on the play. To make matters worse, defensive end Tim Bulman was flagged for roughing the passer on the play, although replays indicated that Bulman made very brief and sudden contact with Orton and did not knock him to the ground. Bulman limped off the field and appeared to be injured on the play.
Let's see how the Texans respond. Texans fans have shown up en masse today despite rainy, overcast weather, and the last thing the Texans want to do is lose their home crowd before the end of the first quarter.
From the press box - 12:15 p.m.Starting from their own 28-yard line, the Texans drove into Chicago territory in six plays on the game's opening possession. They couldn't get past the Chicago 45, though, and had to punt on fourth-and-six from that yard-line. Matt Turk's kick bounced into the end zone, giving the Bears possession at their own 20-yard line.
Wide reciever Andre Johnson had two catches for 20 yards on the drive. That's already more than he had last week at Oakland, when he was limited to two catches for 19 yards.
From the press box - 12:01 p.m.Chicago lost the coin toss with a call of tails. Houston elected to receive.
Two statistical benchmarks to watch for today:
1) Can Andre Johnson finish first in the NFL in catches and receiving yards? He ranks first in the league in yards with 1.427. Atlanta's Roddy White is second with 1,334 yards; Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald has 1,301. Johnson is second in the league in catches with 105, trailing New England's Wes Welker, who has 109.
2) Can Steve Slaton win the rookie rushing title? Slaton has 1,190 rushing yards, a Texans single-season record. He ranks second among all rookies. The Titans' Chris Johnson is first with 1,228. The Bears' Matt Forte is third with 1,188.
From the press box - 11:07 a.m.The Texans are a little less than an hour away from kickoff for their season finale against the 9-6 Chicago Bears, who need a victory to earn a playoff berth in the NFC. It's 50 degrees at Reliant Stadium. The roof is open, and a light rain is falling on the field as the players are warming up and the fans starting to file in to their seats.
With a victory today, the Texans would finish the season 4-1 in December, which would be the best month in team history. That success, coupled with the offensive firepower the team has shown with the likes of Andre Johnson, Steve Slaton, Owen Daniels and Matt Schaub, would give the Texans a big surge of confidence heading into 2009.
Following are the inactives for the Texans' matchup with the Chicago Bears at Reliant Stadium. Safety Nick Ferguson and rookie linebacker Xavier Adibi are inactive, and veteran tight end Mark Bruener will play for the first time since the season opener at Pittsburgh.
Texans inactives are:
Changes to the Texans' starting lineup:Morlon Greenwood will start at weakside linebacker for Adibi. Brandon Harrison will start at strong safety for Ferguson.
Bears inactives are:
|12||QB||Caleb Hanie (third QB)|
Changes to the Bears' starting lineup:Devin Hester will start at wide receiver for Rashied Davis. Jason Davis will start at fullback for Jason McKie. Danieal Manning will start at strong safety for Mike Brown, who has been placed on injured reserve. The Bears have added safety Cameron Worrell to their active roster.