CHICAGO — Arian Foster didn't look like a running back catching the football. He looked like an all-pro wideout.
And the Houston Texans needed every bit of Foster's Calvin Johnson impression, using it to take a 10-3 lead over the Chicago Bears into halftime. In a game between the NFL's two best defenses (sorry San Francisco disqualified itself after that showing against the Rams) played on a wet, rainy field, offensive heroics were hard to come by.
The degree of difficulty on the grab came in at about 9.0 on a 10-point scale.
So Foster created some of his own, diving and full-body extending to snare a low Matt Schaub pass in the end zone. There was never any doubt Foster made the catch. He didn't bobble it at all. He never came close to going out even though he was in the front right corner of the end zone, right along the goal line.
Many professional wideouts could take lessons from this grab. It came on second-and-goal from the 2-yard line, a point on the field where everything becomes compacted and every yard is huge. The degree of difficulty on the grab came in at about 9.0 on a 10-point scale.
In the rain. Running out of real estate. The pass low.
The catch gave the Texans a 10-3 lead with 4:21 left in the first half, an advantage that would loom even larger after Bears quarterback Jay Cutler was knocked out of the game with a concussion.
It also marked something of a return for the NFL's most versatile offensive weapon. Foster has carried the Texans running attack all season, but the passing catching that made such a double threat in the 2010 and 2011 seasons had been largely absent as Houston's tight ends became even more involved in the offense.
With starting tight end Owen Daniels out with a hip injury, Texans coach Gary Kubiak turned back to Foster in the passing game.
Midway through the third quarter, Texans quarterback Matt Schaub had nine completions. Four of them went to Foster — including the most impressive catch of the game. Though it still wasn't as impressive as that one-armed catch Foster made against the Baltimore Ravens in the playoffs last January.