Bears Overlook the Spoiler Alerts
Having long been reduced from playoff consideration, the Texans
spent their final month of the 2008 season trying to dent the postseason
aspirations of their opponents.
they took it to the Packers in sub-freezing conditions on the road
to keep them from playoffs, then the Texans overcame the Titans
to delay any clinching of home field advantage. Finally, in finishing
off the Bears with a 31-24 victory at home, they completed their
spoiler destiny in sending Chicago home for January.
again, it was the offensive effort that propelled the Texans to
victory. Amassing 455 yards of production to the Bears' 294, the
Texans just needed to prevent the one thing that had kept them from
their own postseason dreams all season: turnovers. And they needed
some much needed karma from replay review to do it this time.
by ten midway through the fourth quarter (does that sound familiar
Rosenchopper fans?), running back Steve Slaton fumbled the football
at the Chicago 20 (I know a redzone turnover sure sounds familiar
to me). Replay however proved that Slaton was on the ground when
the ball came out, the first time this season that the team had
a challenge they called ruled in their favor.
Kubiak lost the challenge for the fifth time in five tries, momentum
certainly would have shifted to the Bears, and the 10-point lead
might have been compromised.
of benching Slaton for the miscue as head coach Gary Kubiak had
done in last week's game against the Raiders, he fed his rookie
the ball with four more handoffs, the last of which was a 2-yard
touchdown for a commanding 31-17 lead with 3:28 remaining in the
Johnson concluded the best season of his career with a 10-catch,
148-yard, 2-TD performance, the most output of any receiver that
had faced the Bears all year. Johnson is the heart of this, the
league's third best offense, not so much in the emotional sense
but in that his is the steady pulse that keeps the offensive flow
as well to Baby Shan, having finally been handed the reins of offensive
playcalling from Kubiak. Baby Shan showed an understanding of what
makes this offense works, and in doing so, should hopefully free
up Kubiak to focus on other head coaching aspects of game preparation
Johnson is the heart of the offense, then Matt Schaub is its brain.
Physically, it has been another demanding season for Schaub, but
he was clinical in completing 75 percent of his passes against the
Bears for 328 yards and two scores with no interceptions.
available weapons like Johnson and Slaton helped him look good,
but Schaub has really put together a nice season since that ugly
0-2 start. Take out those first two games against the Steelers and
Titans, and Schaub's stats reflect a 67.4 percent completion rate
with a 14-5 TD-to-INT ratio and a per game passing yardage total
of 295 - - and that even includes his injury-shortened game against
those stats over a full season (please!), and we're talking about
a quarterback that throws for 4,700 yards and 25 touchdowns versus
just 9 interceptions. Not too shabby for ol' Schaubby... if he can
find a way to avoid the dirty hits and stomach bugs, that is.
Forward to 2009
win elevated the Texans to an 8-8 record for the second straight
season, a mild disappointment in the end given this is the best
roster talent-wise ever assembled in team history. A fourth down
stop in Jacksonville, a Rosenchopper fumble - it's easy to see just
a couple key plays in which this team really deserved a better record
than it has.
more importantly though, the 8-4 finish, including wins in five
of their last six games, is most telling as this group of players
still believes in Kubiak and has significant promise for the 2009
season. One more productive offseason, and the Texans will simply
be too good to be mediocre once again.
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