Coming into the game on Sunday night against the Houston Texans, the Chicago Bears had one of the best defenses in the league, and their offense was coming off of a game where their team scored over 50 points. It was the perfect pump up game for the Bears to get ready to play a fellow top opponent, one that they could possible be seeing again later in the season.
After the game, however, there are now a lot of questions that need to be answered, and fast. The defense still did what they need to do, only allowing Houston to score one touchdown the entire game and intercepting the ball twice, trying their hardest to give their team a chance to win.
That effort wasn't enough, however, as the Bears lost to the Texans by a score of 13-6 and fell to 7-2 on the season. With that loss, there emerged winners and losers of the game on Sunday night.
Jay Cutler had finally silenced his haters going into Sunday's game, with the performance that he had against the Tennessee Titans last weekend. He had all the momentum in the world going into Sunday night's matchup with the Texans, and somehow it all went downhill—and fast.
Cutler, when he was in, wasn't doing so great. Cutler was 7-of-14 for 40 yards and two interceptions. However, had he not gotten taken out, Cutler would have given his team a chance to win.
Cutler has the worst quarterback rating in the NFL in the first quarter this season, yet he has the best rating in the fourth quarter. While it may take him a while to get going, Cutler always gives his team the best chance to win.
Cutler ends this game a loser not because of how he played, but because of the fact that he could not return in the second half. Cutler was hit late in the head on a direct hit from a defender, a play that drew multiple flags right away and should absolutely be looked at by the NFL as a cause for fine and possible suspension.
The Bears learned Sunday that even with the addition of Jason Campbell, Cutler is the man for the job no matter what, and if he can't play next weekend in San Francisco, it's going to be a rough night for the offense in Chicago.
If there is one bright spot for the Bears out of this game, it is that their defense can hold them in any game against any team, and a lot of that has to do with Tim Jennings.
Against Carolina, it was Jennings who had an interception returned for a touchdown to help the Bears put up 14 points in just eight seconds and win the game.
Against Houston, it was Jennings who intercepted the ball twice, and he almost scored on one of the interceptions but was ruled down by contact.
With all of the Charles Tillman talk lately about how good he is and how he should be named Defensive MVP this season, Tim Jennings has made himself a solid case to compete for the award, and if he continues to get interceptions like he did Sunday night and almost every game this season, he could very well steal the award right out from under Tillman.
Last weekend against the Titans, Hester finally ran forward on a return instead of side to side, and he almost broke free for a touchdown on the play.
On Sunday night in the rain, he did the exact opposite.
The only time the Bears had solid field position was when the Texans elected to punt the ball out of bounds so that Hester couldn't get to it. Every time they challenged him and let him return it, he waited and ran side to side again, resulting in a short gain.
Hester is an absolutely essential part of the Chicago Bears and their winning formula. He helps out the offense and defense when he returns the ball well, and he can add a spark at any time. A return for touchdown Sunday night would have put the Bears ahead, and would have been all the defense needed to win the game for Chicago.
Hester ends this game a loser because he regressed from last weekend's game, and if he doesn't get back to what he did against the Titans, he could be finding himself replaced by Eric Weems very quickly.
There were a lot of questions about Urlacher coming into this season, after Urlacher had two knee surgeries done in the offseason. Fans were wondering how he would respond when he himself said his knee would never be the same.
Well, it's safe to say those rumors are gone.
Against the Texans, Urlacher made his presence known in a big way. He led the team in tackles with eight, including two tackles for a loss. On the season, Urlacher now has 41 tackles, two fumble recoveries, one forced fumble, one interception and one touchdown. Every person who ever doubted Urlacher, including myself, has been silenced.
Urlacher ends this game a winner because he continued to show to the whole world that he can, and will, keep playing the sport he loves at an elite level and will not be taken away from the game because of injuries.
If you look at the picture on this slide, you will see large chunks of grass being thrown around and ripped out of the ground.
Yes, the conditions were rough for any team to play in, and both teams had to suffer through it, but the field conditions of Soldier Field have always been subpar, and Sunday night's game showed everyone just how bad the conditions really are.
It is refreshing and neat to see an NFL team that still plays on real grass instead of astroturf, but it gets to a point where the health and safety of the players begin to get affected when they're running and there are holes all over the field from players getting massive chunks of grass and mud ripped out of the ground in their cleats.
The fact that one of the league's oldest franchises still plays on real grass is a pretty cool thing, but after this game, the grounds crew in Chicago is going to come under massive fire for how the field is during a storm. The field is not something that should be bothering the Bears right now, especially after their loss on Sunday night.
Robbie Gould missed a field goal Sunday night from inside 50 yards, something that will almost never happen. So why does he end up a winner from this game?
Gould gave the Bears hope and a chance to win the game throughout the entire game, just like he did in 2006. He made one on Sunday from outside 50 yards, in the pouring rain on a muddy field filled with holes.
He made two field goals and scored the only points for Chicago that they had all night. Gould continues to show his team that he is a clutch player, and he will help them stay in any game until the rest of his team can get going. The one miss that he had Sunday night would not have won the game for Chicago, but the two that he made certainly held the Bears in the game and gave them hope when they desperately needed some sign of life.
Gould is an amazing kicker, one of the best in the league, and as long as he keeps kicking, the Bears have a shot in almost any football game they play in.
Everything else aside, there is one statistic that led to the downfall of the Chicago Bears on Sunday night, and that would be turnovers.
The Bears are the best in the league at forcing turnovers, but when they do it themselves, it makes it extremely hard to win the game because their defense is going to be on the field all the time, get tired out and eventually give up some points no matter who they are playing.
The offense for the Bears took a step backward Sunday night, and it was not because of the loss of Jay Cutler. When Cutler was in, he threw two interceptions and the Bears fumbled the ball twice, once being on a crucial 4th-and-1 play where Michael Bush had already gotten the first down.
On Sunday, the Bears beat themselves just as much as the Texans beat them. That is no knock against Houston, who is an elite team and the best in the AFC. It means that if the Bears want to win games, they can't turn the ball over four times and expect to keep winning like they have.
Time and time again, Brandon Marshall puts up big numbers that keep his team in any game and make his offense a threat at any time, no matter how banged up or put down they are.
Marshall had yet another game where he caught over 100 yards, and he continued to show people why he is a Pro Bowl receiver and deserves to be in the elite conversation for best receiver in the NFL.
Marshall provides a safety net for new quarterbacks in this offense like Campbell, who hasn't seen much action at all this season under center. He also acts as a decoy, because when he starts getting double- and triple-teamed, other receivers get open and the running backs have an open field to run with.
Marshall has been everything the Bears could have hoped for and more this season, and Sunday night was no exception. He leaves this game a winner even though his team did not, and his play could personally save the season for the Bears if Cutler isn't able to go next week in San Francisco.
Jason Campbell was thrown into a game against one of the absolute best defenses in the NFL, in the middle of a rainstorm with an offense that was already struggling in this game. That being said, Campbell has to do a better job of managing the game and giving his team a chance to win.
Against Carolina, when the team was struggling and desperately needed a touchdown, Cutler marched his team right down the field and scored. Yes, it was against a much more inferior opponent than the Texans, but nonetheless, he got the job done.
Campbell took his time, looked confused and in a daze and on fourth down with less than a minute to go, he threw the ball to Matt Forte down the field who had four Texans defenders around him.
Jason Campbell was brought in to avoid situations just like this one, where Cutler goes down and the offense goes with him. He played about as well as Cutler did in the first half, except the difference between the two is that when push comes to shove, Cutler gets the job done. Campbell did just the opposite Sunday night, and the Bears suffered a loss because of it.
The talks of comparing this to last season can be put to rest right now because Cutler will come back from this injury this season. In the meantime, if the Bears need Campbell against another elite defense next week, he has to be ready to go and up to the challenge.
The Bears had been on cloud nine up until this game, doing interviews and commercials, being compared to the 1985 Bears by every major media outlet in the United States.
On Sunday night, the team got hit with a dose of reality, and they got hit hard.
It's important to look at a loss like this and analyze what went wrong, so that next time the same mistakes aren't made.
The Bears were in this game right up until the end, and they were without their starting quarterback for the entire second half, and they really didn't have him on their two-minute drill at the end of the first half either because he was in such a daze.
They played solid on defense and need to work on a few things offensively and on special teams. This loss does not mean the season is over, the sky is not falling and the Bears are not being taken down from first place in the NFC North.
This needs to be a wake-up call for Chicago that there are other teams out there that can compete with them, even when their defense shuts down an opposing team's offense.
The Bears need to accept the fact that they lost, and move on to next week's Monday Night Football showdown with the San Francisco 49ers, a game that everyone will be watching. This little dose of reality can end up being good for Chicago, and it's up to them to decide how they want to respond to it.