Bears fizzle after hot start, lose opener to Texans
HOUSTON — For first half, the Bears looked spry.
For the second, they looked like last year’s team.
The result was a 23-14 loss to the Texans in which the home team scored the game’s last 13 points, sending the Bears to their third-straight season-opening loss.
The first half couldn’t have started — or ended — better for the Bears.
With the Texans marching on their opening drive, cornerback Tracy Porter ripped the ball from the arms of Pro Bowl receiver DeAndre Hopkins, giving the Bears the ball at their own 25.
Eight plays later, the Bears were in the end zone. Eddie Royal converted a third down with a 13-yard catch and Alshon Jeffery, on the next play, caught a 29-yard pass.
Pass interference on Kareem Jackson — on a ball intended for Jeffery — moved the Bears to the 5. Jeremy Langford ran for four yards, and then one more on the next play, to go up 7-0.
The Texans scored 10 points on consecutive second-quarter drives — a 28-yard Nick Novak kick and a 23-yard Hopkins catch at the back left pylon.
Trailing 10-7, the Bears took advantage of an epic Texans defensive meltdown at the end of the half. After an offensive pass interference call on Zach Miller wiped out a 19-yard gain, the Bears faced first-and-20 from their own 27 yard line.
Cutler dropped back, rolled a bit to his left, and threw back across the field — deep — to Alshon Jeffery. Amazingly, one of the league’s best deep threats was single-covered, and not very well. His 54-yard catch gave the Bears the ball at the Texans 19 with 13 seconds left. On the next play — after dueling timeouts by each team — Cutler rifled a pass to Eddie Royal down the seam to give the Bears a 14-10 lead.
Cutler threw an interception on the second play of the second half, launching a pass to a spot where, it seemed, Kevin White was supposed to be. Cutler was animated afterward, pointing toward his right — as if that’s where White was supposed to run. Andre Hal picked off the pass and returned it to the Bears’ 25, though the Texans were held to yet another 28-yard Novak field goal.
The teams traded punts until the Texans took a 20-14 lead. On third-and-7 from the Bears’ 18-yard line, rookie Will Fuller, a Notre Dame alum, caught a tunnel screen left and scampered for a touchdown. Fuller led all receivers with 107 yards on five catches — and could have had more had he not dropped a pass that likely would have gone for an 83-yard touchdown.
Novak’s 38-yard kick — after Hopkins dropped an over-the-shoulder touchdown — gave the Texans a 23-14 lead with 6:10 to play.
The Bears played their opener without cornerback Kyle Fuller, who had arthroscopic knee surgery three weeks ago. Rookie Cody Whitehair started at center, and seemed competent against Pro Bowler Vince Wilfork.