Houston Stifles Chicago's Playoff Hopes, Clinches Second .500 Season
With Steve Slaton scoring a touchdown with 3:28 left and Ken Walter recovering a Houston onside kick, the Texans defeated the Chicago Bears 31-24.
The Texans (8-8) finish with their second eight-win season, winning five of their last six and going 3-1 against the NFC. With the loss, the Bears (9-7) were officially eliminated from the playoffs. The Minnesota Vikings clinched the NFC North and denying the division-rival Bears a playoff berth by coming back and defeating the New York Giants 20-19. Chicago went 2-2 against the AFC South.
The Texans got off to a shaky start in the first quarter. Houston got the ball first, but had to punt just after they got inside Bears’ territory.
The Bears got the ball at their own 20 after the punt went in the end zone. Chicago quarterback Kyle Orton completed all five of his passes for 48 yards. Devin Hester had 26 yards receiving on two receptions. Brandon Lloyd gave the Bears the lead with a four-yard touchdown pass from Orton.
On the Texans next possession, Steve Slaton fumbled after catching a six-yard pass and Chicago's Alex Brown recovered and returned it to the Texans' 38.
The Texans defense stepped up and stopped the Bears. After giving up a 13-yard pass to rookie running back Matt Forte, Houston held Chicago to only six yards. The Bears had to settle for a 37-yard Ryan Gould field goal to go up 10-0.
After having to punt on each of their previous two possessions, Houston's offense would get going in the second quarter. Quarterback Matt Schaub completed four passes for 74 yards. Andre Johnson had 72 yards on the drive including a 43-yard touchdown.
On the ensuing kickoff, Chicago's Danieal Manning ripped off a 33-yard return before fumbling, and Texans’ kicker Kris Brown recovered at the Chicago 38.
Slaton gained then 11 yards on three carries and Schaub completed 3-of-4 passes for 25 yards on the ensuing drive. Johnson would wrestle the ball away from Charles Tillman in the end zone to put the Texans ahead 14-10.
The Texans would increase their lead in the second half. On their first possession in the third quarter, Schaub completed four-of-five passes for 70 yards. Former practice squad player Ryan Moats capped off the drive with a two-yard touchdown run to increase the Texans lead to 21-10 with 8:34 left in the third.
The Bears answered back on their next possession. Orton completed four-of-five passes for 64 yards, including a 37-yard pass to Hester that move the ball to the Texans’ 1-yard line. Greg Olsen finished the drive with a one-yard touchdown reception.
The Texans increased their advantage in the fourth, with Schaub leading Houston on a 53-yard-drive that consumed over five minutes, and ended with Brown hitting a 22-yard field goal, putting the Texans ahead 24-17.
After forcing the Bears to punt, the Texans got the ball at their own 11. Schaub would direct an 11-play, 89-yard drive that took over six minutes off the clock. Slaton finished the drive with a two-yard touchdown that increased the Texans' lead to 31-17.
Johnson, who was held to only two catches last week at Oakland, had 10 receptions for 148 yards and two touchdowns for the Texans, and finishes the season with 115 receptions for 1,575 yards and eight scores.
Schaub had no problems finding receivers, completing 27 of 36 passes for 328 yards and two touchdowns. Schaub finished the season with 3,043 yards passing, 15 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
Slaton led the Texans in rushing with 92 yards on 20 carries, and one touchdown on the day. Slaton finished his rookie season with 1,282 yards rushing on 268 carries, and nine touchdowns.
Moats, who was signed on to the Texans’ practice squad in Week 5, had 12 carries for 38 yards and one touchdown.
For the Bears, Orton completed 22 of 37 passes for 244 yards and two touchdowns. Orton finished the season with 2,972 yards passing, and 18 touchdowns to 12 interceptions.
Forte led the Bears in rushing with 50 yards on 13 carries against the Texans, with 11 of those coming in the first half for 45 yards. Forte finished the season with 1,238 yards on 316 carries and eight touchdowns.
Devin Hester led the Bears in receiving with six receptions for 85 yards, finishing the season with 51 receptions for 665 yards and three touchdowns. Hester—who had six return touchdowns in 2007—had none in 2008.