Texans fall to Bears in Schaub's debut
NFL.com - Matt Schaub's first pass for the Houston Texans was for 2 yards. His second one was dropped.
This revamped Texans offense sure looks a lot like the old one.
Schaub, who replaced David Carr after backing up Michael Vick for three years in Atlanta, had an inauspicious debut going 3-for-5 for 25 yards. But the defending NFC champion Chicago Bears scored 13 fourth quarter points, including a 47-yard go-ahead field goal by Robbie Gould with 2:23 remaining to beat the Texans 20-19 in the exhibition opener for both teams Saturday night.
The Texans got Schaub in a trade with the Falcons in March and released Carr, the No. 1 pick in 2002, after he failed to lead Houston to a winning record in five seasons.
That first drive, which also featured a 1-yard run by new Texan Ahman Green, ended in a punt. On his second and last series, Schaub looked a bit better, finding Andre Johnson for a 15-yard gain and Owen Daniels up the middle for 8 yards.
The Texans had to settle for a field goal that put them ahead 3-0 after Schaub overthrew a wide-open Kevin Walter in the end zone on third-and-4.
"I thought he did some good things," coach Gary Kubiak said. "He had a chance for a lay-up touchdown there at the end and he misses Kevin in the corner of the end zone."
And this was against a Bears defense missing both Pro Bowl linebacker Brian Urlacher and star defensive tackle Tommie Harris, who didn't suit up.
"I felt really comfortable right from the start," Schaub said. "We were in rhythm, we had a good tempo. The whole time we were in there, we did a good job of getting in and out of the huddle and executing our assignments."
The 30-year-old Green, who signed with the Texans in March after seven seasons in Green Bay, finished with three carries for 7 yards.
Johnson, a Pro Bowler last season, was encouraged by Schaub's performance.
"I think a lot of the decisions he made tonight were some pretty smart decisions," Johnson said. "I'll tell you one thing, he'll stay in that pocket and throw that ball. That's something you have to love about the quarterback."
Rex Grossman looked sharp in two series and completed his first eight passes. He found first-round pick Greg Olsen for a 5-yard gain before hitting Muhsin Muhammad for 10 yards on the first drive.
"I have a feeling he will make a lot of those catches over the course of the year," coach Lovie Smith said of Olsen.
Grossman was 8-of-10 for 50 yards.
"We moved the ball pretty well," Grossman said. "For the first preseason game that was fine, and that's really all you try to do is look sharp and execute."
Cedric Benson, in his first season as the featured back, had five carries for 23 yards. It was the first career preseason game for the former University of Texas standout after he sat out as a rookie because of contract negotiations and last year with a shoulder sprain.
"Cedric Benson ran the ball really well," Smith said. "He had three catches, which is good to get him back in the flow."
Backup Brian Griese's first pass was intercepted by Von Hutchins, who ran it back 20 yards. The Texans added another field goal that made it 6-0.
Griese redeemed himself on the next drive, finding Mark Bradley for a 31-yard gain before a short touchdown pass to fullback Obafemi Ayanbadejo put Chicago ahead 7-6 in the second.
The NFL suspended Ayanbadejo for the first four regular-season games without pay for violating the league's policy on anabolic steroids and related substances on Thursday. He denied taking steroids and blamed the test results on an over-the-counter supplement. The suspension begins Sept. 1.
Houston's Jerome Mathis returned a kickoff 78 yards after the Bears' TD. The third-year player, who missed 14 games with injuries last season after making the Pro Bowl as a rookie, was finally brought down by Gould. The return set up Kris Brown's third field goal, a 42-yarder, to make it 9-7. Brown also had a 29-yarder.
"It was fun, kind of like being a rookie all over again," Mathis said.
Jeb Putzier caught a 6-yard touchdown pass from Sage Rosenfels in the third quarter to push Houston's lead to 19-7.
Last year's No. 1 overall pick Mario Williams, playing at right end, didn't have a tackle and rookie tackle Amobi Okoye had just one assist. Okoye, drafted 10th this year, did get in the backfield once and hurried Grossman.
A 3-yard touchdown pass from Kyle Orton to Fontel Mines cut the lead to 19-14 early in the fourth quarter and Gould added a 44-yard field goal with 4:52 to play.
Texans strong safety Glenn Earl injured his foot, linebacker Shawn Barber has a shoulder strain and cornerback Jason Horton fractured his arm on Saturday.