The Houston Texans kept taking the ball away from the Chicago Bears. Then they took their quarterback out of the game.
Arian Foster finished with 102 yards rushing and a touchdown catch, and the Texans intercepted Jay Cutler twice before knocking him out of the game with a concussion on their way to a 13-6 victory over the Chicago Bears on Sunday night.
In a showdown between two of the NFL's best teams, the Texans (8-1) beat the Bears (7-2) at their own game. They came away with four takeaways against a team with a plus-16 turnover differential and Tim Dobbins delivered the biggest blow when he drove his helmet into Cutler late in the second quarter.
"I think we showed them we can win any game, any situation, any time, any place, tough weather conditions, tough place on the road, a very good football team," defensive end J.J. Watt said. "We won, so say what you want."
Foster was the only reliable offensive weapon on either side, particularly in the first half when he ran for 85 yards and made a sprawling catch for a 2-yard touchdown to put Houston ahead 10-3.
Otherwise, neither team got much going on a soggy night. The Texans did just enough, and now they're tied with Atlanta for the league's best record after the Falcons were upset by New Orleans.
"It's huge for us, we were 7-1 going in, to come out 8-1 in a hostile place, given the weather and the team we were playing, that's a tough group to go against," said Matt Schaub, who threw for just 95 yards and was picked off twice by Tim Jennings.
Andre Johnson, Schaub's top target, had just four catches for 35 yards with Charles Tillman on him. Former Bear Danieal Manning helped set the tone, forcing a fumble by Kellen Davis on Chicago's first play from scrimmage and picking off Cutler later in the first quarter.
Cutler completed just 7 of 14 passes for 40 yards with two interceptions in the first half and was seen in street clothes after the game being driving off on a cart by team officials. Jason Campbell threw for 94 yards in the second half.
"You never want to lose anybody, especially our starting quarterback," receiver Brandon Marshall said. "He is our leader, he is the heart and soul of our offense so we definitely want him to have a quick, speedy recovery. In the meantime, Campbell is more than capable. There was no heads hanged down when Jay was down. There was no complaining. We understand we have a starting quarterback in the backup so we're fortunate to have him. There will be no drop off in our offense."
Marshall managed 107 yards receiving but also dropped a pass in the end zone. Matt Forte never got going, running for 39 yards.
But the biggest sequence came when Cutler got hurt.
The Texans had just gone up 10-3 on a lunging 2-yard touchdown catch by Foster. A scrambling Cutler took a helmet-to-helmet hit from Dobbins after unleashing a pass on third down at midfield late in the first half.
There were offsetting penalties on the play. Cutler got called for an illegal forward pass because he was beyond the line of scrimmage and then got drilled by Dobbins, who was called for unnecessary roughness.
Cutler stayed in and the drive ended with his second interception. Kareem Jackson picked off a pass intended for Marshall in double coverage at the Houston 27.
"It's tough," Campbell said. "That what defenses try to do."
Was it a cheap shot?
"He caught him right under the chin," Campbell answered.
Cutler was in for the final drive of the half, but Campbell started the third quarter, sending a big chill through Soldier Field.
After all, the Bears crumbled last season after Cutler injured his thumb, spoiling a 7-3 start. They went into a tailspin with Caleb Hanie and finished 8-8, costing general manager Jerry Angelo his job. With Campbell now in the mix, the Bears believe they could at least survive, and that theory could be put to the test in a big way with a game at San Francisco next Monday night.
"If I have to play, of course, during the week I will get those practice reps and get the guys used to (me)," Campbell said. "And they will get used to me as a quarterback, until Jay is ready. That's something that we have all week to get ready for. We don't have to work that out during the middle of the game."
Campbell couldn't lead them back in the second half, although there was plenty of blame to go around for that.
Robbie Gould kicked a 24-yard field goal late in the third period, but missed a 48-yarder early in the fourth that would have made it a one-point game. Shayne Graham kicked a 42-yarder for Houston to make it 13-6 with 4:49 left.
"It shows we can win in any environment, in any situation," Watt said. "Our team prevailed and obviously a lot of perseverance."