CHICAGO -- On the eve of his first regular season game at Soldier Field in almost two years, Houston Texans safety Danieal Manning spoke to his teammates about the importance of playing as a team in their prime-time matchup against his former team, the Chicago Bears.
"(Coach Gary) Kubiak asked me right before the team meeting if I wanted to speak in front of the team," Manning said. "I didn't know he was going to ask me.
"I told these guys last night in the meeting that we are a resilient group. We need to continue playing like that against this Bears team, because they are going to make their plays. If we just stay resilient we'll come out with the win."
The Texans did just that, thanks in large part to the efforts of Manning, who forced a pair of first-quarter turnovers against the team that selected him in the second round of the 2006 NFL draft.
Manning's first takeaway occurred on the Bears' opening offensive play from scrimmage when he separated Kellen Davis from the ball after the tight end caught a short pass over the middle for 6 yards.
"After I hit him I told him this isn't practice now so I can run through you," Manning said with a laugh in the postgame locker room.
Later in the quarter Manning picked off a deep Jay Cutler pass down the right seam that was also intended for Davis for the safety's second interception of the season. Manning was also credited with three tackles in the official NFL statistics book handed out after the game.
"We were in a zone coverage on that backside and early in the game I was showing down," Manning said. "I was trying to (fool) him into running the ball, and he checked and motioned a guy out, so the linebacker stayed inside. He pump faked me to the left over Brandon Marshall, but I ran back to the seam and made the play."
Manning had five good seasons in Chicago before the Texans made him a substantially larger offer than the Bears in the 2010 free agency period. Manning jumped at the chance to return to his home state of Texas and has since flourished in the Texans' defensive system which allows him to play an aggressive style at safety.
"Honestly, it's just the nature of the beast with the business side," Manning said. "They made a great decision. I feel the defensive backs they have are great for them, and I made a great decision coming here."
Houston quarterback Matt Schaub understood why Manning was so eager to face his old club.
"I knew what type of game it was going to be for him because I had been there before too during my first year here going back to Atlanta," Schaub said. "It's special when you go back and play against the guys you were in the locker room with before and at a place you played before with a lot of great memories. So I knew it was a big game for him, and he came out and played exceptional."