Backup quarterback Jason Campbell found out at halftime he'd be getting his first extended playing time as a Bear.
"When we came in, Jay told me, 'Hey, get ready. I'm not sure of the status of my injury. Just get ready to go out and play the second half,' " Campbell said. "The coaches came out and said, 'You're in, let's roll.' "
It turned out Cutler had a concussion, and Campbell was unable to rally the Bears from the 10-3 halftime deficit, which ended in a 13-6 defeat. There's a good chance Campbell will start next Monday night's game in San Francisco against the 49ers, who lost their quarterback, Alex Smith, to a concussion during Sunday's tie against the Rams.
Like Cutler, Smith will be evaluated throughout the week.
"If he has to go, we feel very confident," coach Lovie Smith said of Campbell, who was signed to a one-year deal in the off-season for $3.5 million. "That's why we brought him here."
Campbell (11 of 19 with a 70.9 passer rating) completed a 45-yard pass to Brandon Marshall that set up a third-quarter field goal, but his other 10 completions produced just 49 yards.
"We have confidence in Jason," defensive tackle Henry Melton said. "It just didn't happen for us."
Smith said Cutler's symptoms began to clear up in the second half, but not enough for him to return.
Five cents' worth:
Cornerback Kelvin Hayden started 47 games in seven previous NFL seasons, but he had been unable to earn much playing time on the Bears' defense until two weeks ago when he began sharing time with D.J. Moore at nickel back.
"They're both playing well," defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said. "You love the competition, and we have that. Throughout our defense, guys kind of rotate around. It creates great competition. They're both fine players, and it's a great situation."
But Hayden made an impact in Week 9 with 2 fumble recoveries, and he got all the playing time against the Texans, helping hold Matt Schaub to just 95 passing yards.
"He's a good veteran football player who has played a lot," Marinelli said. "He's an excellent man-on-man player, and he can really tackle in the run game. He's just another guy in the mix for us and a very good corner."
The right stuff:
Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli deflects the praise he gets for orchestrating the group that entered Sunday No. 2 in points allowed.
"The chemistry on this group is special," Marinelli said. "Guys are coachable. A big part of anything you do, (is having) willing, coachable men, and we have a lot of fun."
Part of the "fun" for Marinelli is finding ways to challenge a veteran group that has a total of 23 Pro Bowl appearances.
"That's the key, hitting the right button," Marinelli said, "(finding) what challenges men. That's in everything you do because motivation, at a point, stops after a little bit, but a challenge doesn't. These men always rise to challenges, and when you're a competitor, that usually serves them well."
The Bears allowed just 215 total yards and 13 points Sunday night against the league's No. 2 scoring offense
Then and now:
Through nine games the Bears had allowed just 15.0 points per game. The 2001 defense allowed just 12.7 points per game for a 13-3 team.
Only Brian Urlacher played on both, so he can offer a valid comparison.
"We scored a few times in 2001, but at any given time, anyone on this defense can score," he said. "We didn't have that back in the day. Our d-linemen weren't really the scoring type. But around here, our d-linemen can score, our safeties obviously can, our corners can. So just the big-play capabilities definitely (are different) on this team more than it has been in the past."
The '01 defense scored 5 touchdowns -- 2 by safety Mike Brown, 1 by Urlacher, 1 by cornerback Walt Harris and 1 by cornerback R.W. McQuarters. The current defense has 7 TDs.
Sitting it out:
Sunday night's inactives were wide receivers Alshon Jeffery (hand), Dane Sanzenbacher, guard Edwin Williams, defensive tackles Matt Toeaina and Amobi Okoye, tight end Brody Eldridge and defensive end Cheta Ozougwu.
Rookie defensive end Shea McClellin suffered a concussion on the opening kickoff and did not return.
For the Texans, tight end Owen Daniels, a Naperville Central High School graduate, was inactive with a back injury.