Osweiler downs Bears in Texans debut

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[September 12, 2016]  HOUSTON -- Making his first start with the organization that pried him away from the defending Super Bowl champions, Houston Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler was not only able to dispense with quality advice, he was forced to heed his own wise words.

Osweiler and rookie receiver Will Fuller made memorable debuts as the Houston Texans claimed a 23-14 victory over the Chicago Bears on Sunday at NRG Stadium.

Osweiler, a free-agent signee previously with the Broncos, completed 22 of 35 passes for 231 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. His 18-yard scoring pass to Fuller with 12:44 remaining provided the Texans (1-0) the lead for good.

Fuller, a first-round pick from Notre Dame, earned a measure of redemption with his touchdown and another 35-yard reception that set up a 38-yard Nick Novak field goal with 6:10 to play. Fuller dropped what potentially would have resulted in an 83-yard touchdown late in the first half yet finished with five catches for 107 yards.

"The thing I love about Will in that situation is he came back in the second half and made a couple big plays for us," Osweiler said. "He really had that play-the-next play mentality and I just told him, 'Hey, put that in your back pocket for the rest of your career.' You're going to have moments like that and it's all about the next play."

Bears quarterback Jay Cutler passed for 216 yards and a touchdown but was harassed throughout the second half by the Texans' defensive front. Cutler did not complete a pass in the third quarter, absorbed five sacks total and was hit 13 times.

The Texans pitched a shutout in the second half, limiting Chicago to 71 yards.

"It's going to take time and experience," Cutler said of the pass protection. "It was (center) Cody's (Whitehair) first game out there, and (left guard Josh Sitton) has been with us four or five days. We don't want to make excuses at all. There was nothing up front or on the back end or anything defensively that we weren't prepared for.

After an Osweiler interception on the opening Texans series, Cutler marched the Bears (0-1) 75 yards in eight plays, converting a 13-yard, third-down pass to Eddie Royal and a 29-yard pass to Alshon Jeffery to the Houston 20-yard line before Jeremy Langford capped the march with a 1-yard touchdown run with 6:58 left in the opening quarter for a 7-0 lead.

Osweiler, who won his first NFL start with the Broncos last season at Chicago, rebounded from his miscue and connected with DeAndre Hopkins for a beautiful 23-yard fade pass for a score with 3:14 left in the half to give the Texans a 10-7 lead.

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"It was a great ball," said Hopkins, who had five receptions for 54 yards. "We did some film study and thought we would have that play, and we did what we practiced."

Chicago closed the second quarter with a flourish, covering 75 yards in three plays after the Fuller drop. Jeffery hauled in a 54-yard catch over Texans safety Andre Hal before Cutler hit Royal for a 19-yard strike with seven seconds left in the half for a 14-10 Bears lead.

Just 53 seconds into the third quarter, Hal picked off Cutler at the Chicago 37 to set up the second Novak field goal and ignite the Texans' second-half defensive surge. While Houston endured struggles converting in the red zone, the Bears proved totally helpless once Texans linebacker Whitney Mercilus (two sacks) and the rest of the Houston defense started rolling.

"That was just poor execution," Bears coach John Fox said of the interception. "I don't like getting into blame games, but it just wasn't executed very well."

NOTES: Texans LB Brian Cushing was sidelined by a right knee injury on the first defensive series and, according to reports, will be out for a minimum of six weeks with an MCL strain. Cushing will not require surgery. ... Bears WR Kevin White made his NFL debut after missing his entire rookie season with a stress fracture in his lower left shin. He was targeted seven times and finished with three receptions for 34 yards. ... Texans RB Lamar Miller had 32 touches for 117 yards in his Texans debut. His high for the Dolphins last season in a game was 22 touches against the Eagles on Nov. 15. ... Bears LB Leonard Floyd made his first career start and had six tackles plus a half-sack of Texans QB Brock Osweiler in the third quarter. Floyd, limited by shoulder and hamstring issues in the preseason, was the ninth overall pick out of Georgia.

[ 2016 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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