Can Texans’ Schaub tame interception-minded Bears?
Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub has thrown only 4 interceptions this season, while the Bears have grabbed 17.
As good as Texans quarterback Matt Schaub is — and he's pretty darn good, ranking seventh in the NFL with a 96.8 passer rating — he's not infallible.
Bears cornerback Kelvin Hayden knows. The last time Schaub threw an interception on the road, which was more than two years ago, it was Hayden who got the pick, as a member of the Colts.
"I remember that," said Hayden, who got the majority of the snaps at nickel back last week. "Our front four always did a good job of putting pressure on guys, and when the pressure comes, the quarterback's eyes tend to get a little big. I jumped the route, (made a) good play and scored off it."
Hayden was jokingly asked if it was the biggest interception of his career.
"Almost," he said, smiling and recalling his pick-6 against the Bears in Super Bowl XLI.
Schaub has been intercepted just four times this season, and he was picked off just six times all of last season. But the Bears are tied for first in the NFL with 17 interceptions.
"Matt Schaub is a great quarterback," Hayden said, "but like any quarterback, he can be had. This is a humbling sport. Anytime you feel like you can't be stopped, there's always someone out there to humble you."
Maybe this week:
Last week Devin Hester just missed tying Deion Sanders' career record for return touchdowns when his 44-yard punt return was stopped eight yards shy of the end zone.
Linebacker Geno Hayes had already begun celebrating what he thought was Hester's 19th return TD.
"We talked about celebrating too early," special teams coordinator Dave Toub said. "Geno had his arm up in the air before we were in the end zone. Next time we're going to get him in the end zone, and there will be a lot time to celebrate after that. But it was good to see him plant a foot and burst and split the two cover guys like he did, like we've seen him do so many times before."
Hester could have opportunities against the Texans, who are 23rd in punt coverage. He already owns NFL records with 17 combined kick-return (punt and kickoff) touchdowns and 12 punt-return touchdowns. He also has a 108-yard TD return of a missed field goal.
Run vs. run:
Texans running back Arian Foster is fifth in the NFL with 770 rushing yards and leads the NFL with 10 rushing touchdowns and 11 total scores.
"They get downhill in a hurry," Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher said, "(but) we're pretty good at pursuing."
Foster led the NFL with 1,616 rushing yards in 2010, but he's averaging just 4.0 yards per carry this season, a full yard less than the Bears' Matt Forte (539 yards on 107 carries).
"He's a great running back," Forte said of Foster. "He runs with speed and lots of power and he's got great vision in that zone scheme that they run."
But Forte doesn't see the game as him vs. Foster.
"It doesn't matter to me who's on the (other offense)," he said. "I've got to face the defense."
The Bears and Texans are the only two teams in the top five in points scored and points allowed.
The Bears are third in scoring at 29.5 points per game, thanks in part to 7 defensive touchdowns. The Texans are second, at 29.6 points per game. The Bears are also second in fewest points allowed per game (15.0), while the Texans are fourth (17.1).
"There will be a lot of stars on the football field," Bears coach Lovie Smith said. "We know how big this game is. We can't wait to see how we match up against one of the best."
Both defenses are among the best in third-down situations. The Bears are fifth, allowing opponents to convert just 33.0 percent of their third-down opportunities. The Texans are No. 1, allowing a 26.5 percent success rate.
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