This game has produced 16 points and 10 punts. #HOUvsCHI— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) November 12, 2012
There wound up being 13 punts and 19 points in all, but you get the point. Torrential rain made execution very difficult for both offenses, and it showed from the opening kickoff on.
Keshawn Martin fumbled the opening kick for Houston, but he was ruled down by the review booth. That didn't help the Texans score, but it sure did set the tone for the rest of the night, emphasized by Kellen Davis' fumble to get the turnover party started for Chicago just a few minutes later.
Shayne Graham was able to turn that fumble into three points for the Texans, giving them an early 3-0 lead.
Four turnovers later, and Robbie Gould was able to absolutely nail a 51-yard field goal to tie the game at three. Gould's known for his powerful leg, but thumping the ball through the wind and rain on Soldier Field wasn't easy.
Gould's rocket-propelled field goal was answered by Arian Foster in the form of an outstanding diving catch for a touchdown a little over eight minutes later.
With the score 10-3 Houston at the half, a sloppy, defense-first second half seemed like a foregone conclusion. That idea became even more likely with the news that Jay Cutler wouldn't return for the second half with a concussion:
Cutler's concussion stemmed from the hit he took after this play:
Not only did Cutler get flagged for throwing the ball past the line of scrimmage, but Tim Dobbins laid a late helmet-to-helmet hit on him that left the QB reeling into the halftime locker room. Now that's adding insult to injury. Prior to leaving, Cutler was just 7-of-14 with two interceptions.
Jason Campbell didn't necessarily do a bad job—going 11-of-19 for 94 yards and zero touchdowns—but he wasn't able to make anything major happen down the field for Chicago either. Neither defense gave an inch in the second half, and neither offense was ready to make consistent big plays.
Guys like Tim Jennings, who had two interceptions in the first half, were all over the field. So much so that Yahoo! Sports reporter Jason Cole had to give him the love that the NFL Defensive Player of the Year chatter isn't giving him:
I hear all Chi fans who support Tillman for Def POY, but Jennings is the Bears best CB— Jason Cole (@JasonColeYahoo) November 12, 2012
Gould was able to kick another field goal with two minutes remaining in the third quarter to put the score at 10-6 Houston, but that's the only action we saw until the game's final quarter.
In the fourth, Gould had a chance to bring his team to within one, but he clanked a 48-yard try off the left upright to keep the margin at four in Houston's favor. That allowed Graham to hit another field goal, putting Chicago's offense behind the eight ball with just over five minutes remaining in the game.
Offensively, there wasn't much to take from this one. Foster was really the only standout from either side, making Daniel Jeremiah's tweet pretty all-telling:
That was the Arian Foster drive… Complete RB— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) November 12, 2012
The All-Pro running back finished with 102 rushing yards on 29 carries and one outstanding receiving touchdown. He was the only consistent threat for Houston on offense, with Dobbins, Bradie James, Connor Barwin and Johnathan Joseph leading the way on defense.
Matt Schaub tried to help Foster out, but he only mustered 95 yards on 14-of-26 passing. He also threw two picks.
Because these two teams entered the game with one loss apiece, all eyes were on this contest. The rain certainly put a damper on things, making it difficult to gauge which team really is "better" at this point in the season.
Houston will take the win every time, but it would be interesting to see how these two teams fared on a dry surface. Having Cutler for four quarters would have made a difference as well.