Chicago: The Houston Texans overcame bitterly cold conditions and driving rain to beat the Chicago Bears 13-6 on Sunday in a gritty clash between two of the top defences in the NFL.
Playing through the cold conditions at Chicago’s Soldier Field, the Texans (8-1) traded hard-hitting blows with the Bears and prevailed to remain top of the AFC while confirming their title credentials.
Arian Foster fought for 102 yards rushing and caught a two-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter for a 10-3 Texans lead that stood out in a game that featured little offence.
“Sometimes in cold weather games running the ball is necessary,” Foster told reporters. “This field is pretty bad, but everybody was in it so you had to do what you had to do.”
Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler was knocked out of the game with concussion late in the second quarter after taking a hard hit that forced him to stay in the locker room at half time.
Back-up Jason Campbell could only lead the home team to a third-quarter field goal against the determined Houston defence while the Texans added a field goal in the fourth from Shayne Graham, his second of the game.
Chicago’s final drive attempt to tie the game stalled at their own 40-yard line.
“At half time (the coach) looked at me and just said ‘be ready’,” said Campbell, who was 11-for-19 passing with 94 yards.
“Tonight was my first (chance) since the season started. You have to be patient and try to work through it.”
Though the Bears (7-2) entered the game as the league’s best at creating turnovers, the Texans outshone them with four, including three in the first quarter.
Houston intercepted Cutler twice before he left the game.
Graham opened the scoring with a field goal in the opening quarter before Chicago tied it 3-3 in the second with the first of two Robbie Gould field goals.
With the field muddied and slippery, neither side could gain separation and both offences finished with less than 250 yards.
Bears receiver Brandon Marshall was his team’s only constant threat as he finished with eight catches for 107 yards.
For the Texans, the win was another step forward in the continued growth of the franchise. Having reached their first ever post-season last year, the team has even bigger goals this time around.
“If we continue to stay within what our team is doing we can go all the way. Nobody can stop us,” said Houston safety Danieal Manning, who finished with a forced fumble and an interception.
“The sky is the limit.”
Results (home team in CAPS) Denver 36 CAROLINA 14 TAMPA BAY 34 San Diego 24 Tennessee 37 MIAMI 3 NEW ENGLAND 37 Buffalo 31 BALTIMORE 55 Oakland 20 CINCINNATI 31 NY Giants 13 NEW ORLEANS 31 Atlanta 27 MINNESOTA 34 Detroit 24 SEATTLE 28 NY Jets 7 Dallas 38 PHILADELPHIA 23 SAN FRANCISCO 24 St. Louis 24 (OT) Houston 13 CHICAGO 6 REUTERS