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Miller's TD catch the difference

11/3/2003

HOUSTON (AP) -- The Houston Texans told Tony Banks to avoid
mistakes. He did, and they won.

Banks played an error-free game and hit tight end Billy Miller
for a 20-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter, helping
Houston shut down the Carolina Panthers 14-10 Sunday.

Question on the Panthers: What happened to the Panthers today?
This was a bizarre game for the Panthers. They didn't look good at all offensively with the exception of a few Stephen Davis runs. Questions are going to have to be answered concerning QB Jake Delhomme's effectiveness, because the Panthers need him to play much better football. Right now, the Panthers aren't looking like the same team that beat the Saints and the Bucs in overtime.

Question on the Texans: Were you surprised with today's performance despite the absence of Carr?
Yes and no. The Texans were surprisingly able to get a running game going against a strong rush defense that features one of the best front fours in the NFL. But sometimes when a big name player like a David Carr goes down, it provides an opportunity for the team to rally and fight harder for a victory.

Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.

Banks is the first quarterback other than David Carr to start
for the second-year Texans (3-5). Carr was out with a sprained
right ankle.

"I'll feel better about picking my check up this week," said
Banks, who didn't take a single snap last season.

Entering Sunday, his NFL career had been marked mostly by
miscues: 100 turnovers in 85 games, mostly with the Ravens and
Rams. But against Carolina's vaunted defense, he was 13-of-19 for
154 yards with the one touchdown and -- importantly -- zero
interceptions and zero fumbles.

"I've seen Tony Banks play before, and we did not take Tony
Banks lightly," Panthers coach John Fox said. "I thought he had a
terrific second half."

Carolina, which has lost two of three games after a 5-0 start,
took a 10-7 lead on John Kasay's 23-yard field goal at the end of a
third quarter in which each team had one possession.

But Banks connected with Miller for the winning points on a
second-down play from the Panthers 20 with 9{ minutes left. Banks'
precision pass traveled between Carolina's Ricky Manning and Greg
Favors, and Miller made a one-handed catch and cradled the ball as
he strode 4 yards into the end zone.

Banks "had a little bit of pressure on him, and I looked
late," Miller said. "It kind of stuck in my hand."

Already without its starting QB, Houston lost rookie tailback
Domanick Davis to a strained chest in the second half after a
74-yard day. Davis was trying to become the first player to run for
100 yards in each of his first three NFL starts.

Stacey Mack replaced him in the Texans' backfield and tied the
game at 7 halfway through the third quarter with a 1-yard scoring
lunge in his regular role as goal-line specialist.

After Miller's TD in the final period, Carolina moved to
Houston's 31 on its next possession.

But the drive stalled when receiver Steve Smith, who earlier
scored the Panthers' touchdown, kicked defensive tackle Jerry
Deloach after a catch and was flagged for a 15-yard personal foul.
Carolina punted and never threatened again.

"Just after the catch I started to feel pressure on my leg,"
Smith said. "It was getting harder and harder and I was trying to
get loose, so I kicked him."

Said Fox: "Steve didn't use good judgment and hurt our football
team."

The Panthers fed the Texans a steady diet of Stephen Davis on
the game's opening drive, rushing him eight times for 20 yards to
set up the occasional throw by Jake Delhomme. One of those passes,
a 24-yarder to Smith over the middle, put Carolina up 7-0 midway
through the first quarter.

Carolina's Davis, the NFC's leading rusher, finished with 153
yards on 30 carries.

"I would rather have 11 yards and a win," he said.

The rest of the opening half was marked by a Carolina offense
that gained plenty of yards but couldn't score again, and an
officiating crew that had two gaffes reversed by replay in four
minutes.

In the second quarter, Chad Stanley punted from near midfield to
Smith, who waved for a fair catch. But Smith was knocked off the
play by Houston's Derrick Vaughn, who was blocked into the
returner. Officials initially ruled the ball touched Smith, giving
the Texans possession at Carolina's 4. But replays showed the ball
did not hit Smith and belonged to Carolina.

Moments later, Stephen Davis lost the ball after being tackled
by Jay Foreman, and cornerback Aaron Glenn picked it up and dashed
48 yards for an apparent score. Fox threw his red flag a second
time, and again referee Ron Blum reversed the call after seeing the
ground caused the fumble.

Game notes
Stephen Davis set a Panthers season record with his sixth
100-yard rushing game. ... The Texans improved to 3-0 at home
against NFC teams. ... Mack's TD capped an eight-minute, 17-second
scoring drive, the longest in the team's 24-game history. ... Kasay
has made all 18 field-goal attempts this season.