Bears' offensive line passes big test

Carimi, Webb & Co. hold their own against Watt, Texans' fierce pass rush

Going into Bears versus Texans, many thought the most important game within the game was the Bears offensive line against the Texans' pass rush.

Well, a review of the tape shows the Bears won that battle convincingly but still lost the war.

Give offensive coordinator Mike Tice credit for taking defensive player of the year favorite J.J. Watt out of the game. And give the Bears' offensive linemen credit for holding down the Texans' talented speed rushers — Connor Barwin, Brooks Reed and Whitney Mercilus.

Tice was determined not to let Watt beat the Bears. Watt appeared to be assigned two blockers on 31 of the Bears' 37 called passes.

And it's not like the Bears were merely chipping him with a running back or a tight end. Most of the time (70 percent), they were sliding protection Watt's way and throwing more than 600 pounds of beef in his path. They even used 318-pound tackle Jonathan Scott as a tight end against Watt in a couple of situations that were not short-yardage.

Watt ended up with one quarterback hit.

Double teams also were a part of the Bears' run game. Their most effective runs were keyed by a Gabe Carimi-Lance Louis combo block. And the Bears seemed to be intentionally running away from Watt.

On the subject of Carimi and Louis, it was interesting that the Texans apparently liked the matchup of Watt against J'Marcus Webb and/or Chilo Rachal on the right side of the defense.

Coming into the game, Watt had taken close to 90 percent of his snaps on the left side, but in this game he took only 63 percent on the left side.

Here is what else we learned upon further review.

Grading key: Grades are between 0 and 10 with 0 being complete failure and 10 being perfect.

Offensive line

Grade: 6

The run blocking was mediocre, but the Texans have an outstanding defensive front. That being considered, this was one of the offensive line's best performances of the season.

Carimi was called for a costly hold on the Bears' last drive but otherwise played pretty well. That was one of three penalties against the line.

Tight ends

Grade: 1

The Bears threw five passes to Kellen Davis, and the Texans probably were hoping for many more.

He caught only one of the passes and promptly fumbled. On another, he was knocked off his route, which led to an interception. He dropped two others he should have caught. And on another, he slipped coming out of his break, which nearly led to an additional interception.

Running backs

CHICAGO

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