If you're not in Chicago today, you're lucky. It's 11 degrees with a wind chill of minus-7. Not so sure if it's Bear weather anymore, since the Bears haven't had that much success in cold weather as of late. Let's just hope it affects the visitors from Texas more than the Bears.
Glad to be back with you after a few weeks of schedule shuffling. Since my CBS feed is awful here at the office, I need to go back to using rabbit ears to get a cleaner picture. Sigh.
Adam Caldarelli checks in from Soldier Field: Greetings from the Frozen Tundra South. You can tell it's winter in Chicago because every possible surface is covered with its traditional seasonal white layer of road salt. In keeping with this week's them, I polled eight anonymous meteorologists and they all voted Tom Skilling's forecast for today the most-overrated of the month. Game-time temperature is about 71 degrees. No need for that parka wait, that's in the press box. Outside's another story. It's a bit nippier. Skilling's calling for a high of 16, but the thermometer in my car read 22 as I pulled up to Soldier Field. Maybe this is some kind of psychological ploy for the visiting warm-blooded Houston Texans. There's certainly some kind of Siberian clipper coming out of the northwest--17 mph, the press box guy says--that's got the lake, the players and the fans all agitated and certainly will drop the windchill to a Yukon Territory level. Soon we'll have play-by-play of this traditional matchup of the 5-8 Chicago Bears and the 5-8 Houston Texans, so sit tight, put another log on the fire and help yourself to more glog.
As per usual, send your questions to Adam and he'll get the answers in the locker room after this game. Just use the form on the right.
Adam: Inside Soldier Field the fans-not many of them--are filing in. Apparently blaze orange and Carharts are the new rage this winter. The turf looks like one would expect a living organism without the benefit of a hat and mittens on a day like this would look and these poor guys trying to wave the gigantic Bears flags are struggling. The Texans are wearing their traditional white jerseys with the red trim and gray pants. The Bears, in yet another mind trick, are wearing Speedos.
Adam: OK, now it's official: ChicagoTribune.com is reporting it's cold out. Seriously, it's game-time and this place is half-filled. Not that I blame the people who stayed home. But Bears fans' reputation as tough and mean has taken a major hit today. Doing some last minute shopping at the American Girl store, are we?
The Bears receive and will start at their own 28. Look for lots of running plays. Slight delay as Cameron Worrell is hurt. Jones carries on first down for a few. Worrell walked off the field on his own. A screen to Jason McKie gets 5 and the Bears face third-and-3. A screen to Jones and he finds room along the sideline and gets to the Bears 48. Jones runs off tackle left and gains 6 more. A reverse to Bernard Berrian and he gains 3. Texans QB David Carr said Berrian was his favorite receiver at Fresno State. Jones goes up the middle and gets the first down at the Houston 37. Hutchinson throws one in the flat for Wade, but it's behind him and almost picked off. Jones carries for 5. Sweep to Jones and he trips just shy of the first down marker and it'll be fourth-and-1.
Adam: Got to go for it, Lovie. You're 5-8.
They do go for it....and Jones goes wide and after it looked like he wouldn't make it, he does find some space and runs to the 23.
Adam: Great individual effort by Jones to pick up that first down.
Jones gets the call again and picks up 2. Jones again...and he gains 6 more. Jones gets the call again and he fumbles and the Texans grab it. Jason Babin recovers.
Adam: Cue the sound when PacMan dies. That sums up that drive. Jones was taking it right at the Texans. He carried the ball eight times and five straight on that drive before fumbling. I don't recall Jones fumbling that much this season.
Not sure what happened there as the ball really popped out. He was not hit on the play.
Houston starts at the 35 and they go to Domanick Davis, their top rusher, and he gets just a yard. Davis carries out to the 43. On third and short, Davis sweeps to his left and he has a big hole and runs all the way to the Bears 34.
Adam: On an unrelated note, anyone see that Atlanta-Carolina game last night? Dez White? Who knew?
Carr finds Andre Johnson for a short gain to the 30. Davis gets nothing on second down. Davis gets 26 on a draw play and Kris Brown comes on to try a 43-yard field goal and he pushes it right.
Hutchinson finds Jones out near the sideline and they get 5. Jones carries and he'll lose a couple. Chad throws for Wade and it's complete, but for no gain. Maynard punts and J.J. Moses returns it to the Houston 25.
Davis gains 2 and then 4 more and it's third-and-4 and that's the quarter.
Carr is under pressure and throws one wide and low intended for Johnson and Houston will kick. Chad Stanley shanks the punt and the Bears will begin at their own 48.
Adam: Today is the first time the Bears are letting a select few fans sit on the field. Is that some kind of reward or a punishment? I think the seats come with blankets, which is nice.
A-Train comes on and breaks away for a 13-yard gain to the Texans 39. Thomas again and he'll get 3 more. A-Train gets a yard. Chad slips going back to pass, but still gets rid of the ball, but the pass for Terrell is broken up. Paul Edinger will try a 53-yarder. Wonder if it's a fake? It is, and Edinger tries a pass and it's picked off, but Aaron Glenn is taken down near the 15. No harn done.
Adam: Oh, dear. That's going to kill Edinger's passer rating. You can't throw into triple coverge like that. I guess he was giving defensive tackle Israel Idonije a chance to make a play.
Don Criqui on CBS called him Edin-ger instead of Edin-Jer. Nice.
Carr looks for Johnson and he's double-covered and it's incomplete. Tank Johnson nailed Carr on the play.
Adam: Like the Panthers used Julias Peppers last night, I don't see that role in Idonije's future. Though, he's from Manitoba and may be the only guy who doesn't mind the weather.
Davis gets a yard and now Houston is called for a false start. From the 12, Carr tosses one to Davis and he's taken down at the 14 and the frosty crowd loves it. Stanley's punt is fumbled by R.W., but he falls on it just inside the 50.
Hey, Santa's in the crowd. From the 42 of Houston, Jones goes straight ahead for a few. Chad throws a screen to McKie and the pass is low and he can't hold it. Chad has time to throw and he finds Clark in the middle of the field to the Texans 28. Reverse to Berrian and he's going to lose a bundle back to the 38. That's a 10-yard loss. Here's a screen to A-Train and he has room and almost gets it all back. An 20-yard gain to the 18 and the Bears are a foot short. Let's see if they can hang on to the football on this drive. Oh my...false start on the Bears on Kreutz. Now it's third-and-5.
Adam: For one of the leaders of the Bears and Pro-Bowler, Olin Kreutz sure false starts a lot--in crucial situations.
Thomas carries and can only reach the 20. Edinger comes on and hooks one like one of my golf drives and we're still scoreless. That was a 37-yard attempt.
Adam: Even after the 5-yard penalty the Bears ran the same play as if it were fourth-and-inches. I'm thinking scoreless draw today.
It seems like a season-long problem for the Bears. They always make a mistake at the worst time. Even something as simple as a false start when you only need a foot for a first down. Then they run again and don't make it and miss the field goal.
Adam: Chris, the reason Criqui keeps mispronouncing Edigner's name is because the press box announcer keeps doing the same.
Carr goes to Gaffney near the sideline and Houston will have a first down. A big pickup there. Texans take a timeout. From the Bears 43, Carr and Gaffney hook up again and that's a gain of 11 more. Carr goes to pass and is forced to run and he goes out at the 31. Davis gets the call and he's gang-tackled right at the 31. Only 4 minutes to play in the half. Texans are called for a false start and so it's back to the 36. On third down, the Bears get good pressure on the QB and he fires incomplete. Houston will punt. It's a touchback.
From the 20, the Bears are called for holding after Chad completed a pass. Great. Chad is rushed and he almost falls down and he finds Terrell for the first down at the 30. Nice play by Chad. On first down, Hutchinson, running backwards, throws incomplete. Jones carries and he'll get about 4. Glad to see the Bears using Jones and Thomas. We're at the two-minute warning.
On the board on the right of this page, "a fan" wants to know if the Bears can make the playoffs if they win out. The answer is yes, but they'll need some major help.
Adam: One positive about this game? It's rolling right along.
Adam: Manitoban and Israel Idonije fan, Andrew T., checks in with an e-mail from the Great White North: "Thanks for the Manitoba plug. Just so you know, up here in Idonije's province, it's hovering around -40 with the wind. You guys have it good!"
Texans start at their 33. carr has time and it's a short pass to Davis for 9 and they're in the two-minute drill. Davis gets the first to the 43. On first down, Carr is under pressure, but throws and it's almost picked by R.W. Now Alex Brown breaks up a Carr pass and it'll be third down. Carr finds Andre Johnson open on the sidelines for a gain of 28 to the Bears 28. Davis sweeps right and gets about 8, but Houston is called for holding. That's big. Back to the 38 with 34 seconds left. Carr goes for it all and Corey Bradford makes a diving grab in the end zone for the TD. A perfect pass and an incredible catch. Bradford is called for excessive celebration and they'll mark off 15 yards on the kickoff. The PAT is good.
Texans 7, Bears 0
Adam: Corey Bradford should be fined for that. He could've taken someone's eye out with a stunt like that. Where are the Detroit Piston fans when you need them? He tried to throw the ball against the wall but it sailed high and nearly nailed a fan.
Houston has to kick from the 15 and Adrian Peterson returns it all the way to the Texans 46 with :22 left. Chad looks downfield and throws and it's picked off by Dunta Robinson and he goes down the sidelines to the Bears 36. Carr throws incomplete and then on the last play of the half, he is forced to run and goes out of bounds.
Texans start at the 25 and they lose 3 on the first play. Carr hits Bradford across the middle and he close to the first. He has it at the 35. Davis carries for no gain. Davis again and he's across the 40. Carr rolls out and will keep it, but he'll run out of bounds short of the first. McQuarters takes the punt at the 15 and is hit immediately.
Send your game questions to Adam and he'll get the answers in the locker room. Just use the form on the right.
Boy, CBS is really promoting "60 Minutes" with Ricky Williams tonight. Who cares?
Bears lose 4 on a run and then are forced to call a timeout. Chad looks for Jones wide and it's too short. Third-and-long. Not good. Chad finds Jones, but it's low and it's only a 4-yard gain. After the punt, Houston will start at their own 47.
Adam: The half start yet?
Domanick Davis sweeps left and rushes to the Bears 44. He had 201 yards in total offense against the Colts last week. He has 61 yards rushing today. Now he carries for 5 more. Time for a big play by the defense. Davis won't go anywhere this time as the Bears put up a wall and he loses 2. Carr looks for Bradford about 10 yards downfield and it falls to the turf. Stanley kicks.
Bears start at the 20. Hutchinson has to throw quickly and it's almost picked off in the flat. Jones finds some room to run and gains 8. Jones goes straight ahead and he gets blasted and will come up just shy. Where's A-Train there? With 6 minutes to go in the quarter, Maynard's punt goes out of bounds at the Texans 19.
Davis runs right and there's nowhere to go and he'll lose a few. Carr looks to his left and then throws right out of bounds. On third-and-12, Carr is flushed from the pocket and he has to throw it away. No intentional grounding because he was out of the pocket. From the 4, Stanley punts and R.W. calls a fair catch at the Houston 48, so a good place to start. Maybe they should look long.
Chad fakes the handoff and he rolls right and tries to dump one toward the sideline and it's knocked away. Hutchinson looks for Wade and he's double-covered and it's almost intercepted near the 25. Now Hutchinson is hit as he throws and here comes yet another punt. Jueff George anyone? At this point, why not?
Adam: There's a kid who looks about 12 right below the press box without his shirt on. He's getting high-fives from people in the crowd. I don't spot his parents but if they're located, we'll be sure to notify DCFS.
The temperature is now down to 10 and the wind chill is -6. Houston starts at the 14 and Carr is under pressure and he throws complete, but the receiver came back into play after stepping out of bounds, so that's a 5-yard penalty. Back to the 9. Carr throws to Mark Bruener and he had it, but dropped it. It was close to a reception with and a fumble. Delay of game on Houston. From the 4, it's second-and-19. The crowd's into the game now and Carr takes a timeout. Carr goes to throw and he's almost out of the end zone and he throws it into the ground. That's a safety because he was still in the pocket. Adewale Ogunleye gets credit for the safety.
Texans 7, Bears 2
Adam: Strange dichotomy up here in the heights of Soldier Field: The kid's still out there, but some dandy in a man-fur just asked him to move so he and his fur-clad wife/girlfriend could get to their seats. If they really cared, they'd loan the kid their spare muff. Meanwhile, the 2 points puts the Bears three safeties down.
Houston will get a free kick from the 20. McQuarters takes the kick at the 40 and returns it to the Bears 49.
On the board, "dale goter" wants to know if we need the Vikings to win or lose today against the Lions. A loss would help. It might be easier for the Bears to win the NFC North than the wild card.
The Bears run for 1 and then two straight incompletions, including another drop by Terrell. The pass was low, but he's got to make that play. Maynard punts.
Adam: Does Terrell have more drops than catches this season? He may need to go to warm weather. Georgia-raised Dez White always said he didn't like the cold and look at him now. Of course, Terrell played in Ann Arbor, so maybe not.
Jonathan Wells is on for Domanick Davis, and from the 10, he gets 4 yards. Here's a run and they lose the 4 yards they just gained. Carr is forced out of the pocket yet again and he's in the end zone, but this time he runs and goes out at the 4. Stanley punts from the end zone and R.W. calls a fair catch at the Texans 34.
They have to take advantage here. Jones gets 3 and then is hit in the backfield and loses 3 and that's the quarter.
On third-and-10, Chad completes to Terrell, but he's going to be 2 yards short at the 26. Edinger comes on and just barely makes the 43-yard FG. Baseball score.
Texans 7, Bears 5
Gaffney drops the kick at the 15, picks it up, and brings it back to the 21. Carr looks for Johnson and it's tipped by Mike Green. Davis rushed and will get 3. Let's see if they can get to Carr here. Not quite. Carr has all day and finds Gaffney past Azumah and it's a huge gain...all the way to the Bears 7. A 69-yard gain there at the worst time--again. Davis gets nothing. On second-and-goal, Carr finds Davis and he gets to the 3. Timeout Houston with 11:45 to go. Carr rolls out and the pass is off the hands of Gaffney in the end zone. Whew. Kris Brown makes the FG with a line drive and no spin.
Texans 10, Bears 5
Bears start at the 35 and Jones catches a screen, but he loses 2. Chad goes deep for Berrian and it's underthrown badly and almost picked off. Now Hutchinson is rushed and sacked, but Houston is called for a 5-yard facemask penalty, so they'll replay the down from the 38.
Adam: Joe from Slingerlands, N.Y., wants to know what a muff is. It's something often worn by NFL quarterbacks and punters to keep your hands warm.
Hutchinson looks to the sideline and his wobbly pass is too high. Punt.
Adam: Qasim Mitchell got the hook again, but Marc Colombo's not faring much better at left tackle.
Houston is at their own 43 after the kick. Davis gains 3. Carr's pass attempt is tipped by Azumah and Green just missed the INT. Carr completes to Gaffney and that'll be a first at the Bears 46. They just made it. Carr is slow getting up. Davis carries and the Bears are offsides. Now Davis rushes and gets the first at the 34. Carr has his pass tipped with 7:30 left. Davis will get a couple and a big play is upcoming with the Texans close to field goal range.
Adam: They just announced there were 17,763 no-shows today.
Can you blame them?
Adam: That's an average crowd for the White Sox.
Carr tries for Bradford, but the pass is thrown out of bounds near the 5. Houston lines up to punt after taking a delay of game. The Bears declined the penalty and there's a timeout on the field. The Texans change their mind and will go for it, and Carr completes to Bradford for a first at the 25. Huge.
Adam: What's up with that? The Texans take a delay penalty, call timeout and the Bears keep their punt team on the field, so the Texans go for it and make it.
Davis carries for 4 and then 3. On the naked bootleg, Carr will run and he'll make the first easily at the 12. Only 4:28 left. Davis goes up the middle and finds daylight and the end zone and this one's over. PAT is good.
Texans 17, Bears 5
At least the Bulls are starting to win some games.
Bears will start at the 36. Chad throws to Wade and he makes the grab, finds running room, and runs to the Houston 38. But Terrell was called for a penalty, so the ball's at the Bears 45. On the next play, the Bears are called for holding. A short toss to Jones gets a couple. Hutchinson finds Jones again for 6 more. Chad looks for Terrell down the sideline and Terrell is drilled and that's an unsportsmanslike call against Houston. He was out of bounds when he was hit helmet-to-helmet. Bears will be at the Texans 31. Hutchinson is sacked and he fumbles and Charlie Anderson picks it up and will have a gimmie touchdown. he goes untouched the other way for the score.
Texans 24, Bears 5
Well, it's time to look ahead to the draft and the 2005 season. Hutchinson finds Gage (where's he been?) to the Texans 38. Houston is then called for a 5-yard penalty and we're finally at the two-minute warning. Chad goes to pass and drops the ball, but he picks it up for a loss of 3. On the next play, Hutchinson throws incomplete, but the Texans are called for roughing the QB. From the 20, Chad avoids the blitz, but he throws incomplete. This will be the fewest points the Texans have ever allowed in their three years in the league. After two more incompletes, Jones runs on fourth down and comes up short and the Texans will take a few knees and that's it.
Merry Christmas everybody!
Final: Texans 24, Bears 5