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Texans match last year's win total

11/17/2003

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) -- Tony Banks keeps making a case that
he's capable of being an NFL starter again. The Buffalo Bills'
banged-up and inept Drew Bledsoe-led offense could've used him
Sunday.

Question on the Texans: Have you been surprised at Banks' ability to manage the offense with Carr out?
I'm not surprised because the Texans wisely have seen what Banks can do and are playing to his strengths. The knock against him has been that he doesn't handle the decision-making process well, so the Texans have shortened the field and supported him with a strong running game. That has enabled the Texans to continue their forward progress with Carr out.

Question on the Bills: Do you think some players on Buffalo's offense have lost confidence after 12 quarters without a TD?
This team has definitely lost confidence as they continue their fast, downhill slide into mediocrity. The character of this team is clearly in question and fingers have to be pointed at the decision making of the coach and the play of the quarterback.

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

Filling in for injured starter Davis Carr, Banks outdid Bledsoe,
sparking the Houston Texans to a 12-10 victory.

Despite playing only three quarters after Carr bruised his right
shoulder 10 minutes into the game, Banks finished with 207 yards
passing to Bledsoe's 184. And, more important, Banks engineered
more touchdown drives -- one -- than Bledsoe has managed in his last
three outings.

As the Texans (4-6) celebrated matching their win total from
last year's expansion season, the Bills (4-6) were left
shell-shocked after losing their sixth in eight games.

"I'm so mad. I don't know what to do," Bledsoe said. "There
have been times when offenses I have been on have struggled ... but
I can't recall a time when we went three games without a
touchdown."

It didn't help that the Bills were without leading receiver Eric
Moulds (groin injury) and running back Travis Henry played the
second half with a broken right leg.

Besides losing Carr, who will have an MRI exam Monday, the
Texans were minus three defensive starters. Cornerback Marcus
Coleman and backup linebacker Antwan Peek was suspended for an
unspecified violation, and didn't travel with the team.

No big deal, said Banks.

"Nobody likes sitting on the sideline," he said. "I've played
a lot of games in this league, but this is David's team. I accept
that role ... and I'm just happy I'm able to help him out."

Banks has played a key role in two of Houston's four victories.
He led the Texans to a 14-10 win over Carolina last month, his only
start while Carr had a sprained ankle.

This time, Banks took over after Carr was hurt when sacked in
the end zone by former Texans linebacker Jeff Posey, and fumbled,
leading to a Bills safety.

Banks finished 11-of-16 and hit Andre Johnson for a 46-yard
touchdown, which put the Texans up 6-5 in the second quarter.
Houston never relinquished the lead as Kris Brown made two field
goals.

Banks' 42-yard completion to Johnson on a decisive nine-play,
67-yard drive led to Brown hitting a 34-yarder for a 12-8 lead with
3:23 remaining.

Not bad for a player who failed to keep his starting job with
three other teams.

"Tony Banks has been a starter in the past, and I'm sure he
could start for a number of teams," Texans coach Dom Capers said.
"We have total confidence in Tony Banks."

The Bills' confidence is running low, particularly regarding an
offense that is in a deep funk. Those problems were compounded when
kicker Rian Lindell missed two field goals.

In its last three games, Buffalo has combined for 21 points,
including three safeties. The Bills' last offensive score was
Henry's 14-yard run in a 24-7 win over Washington on Oct. 19.

"It's hard for me to believe," Bills president Tom Donahoe
said. "It shouldn't be happening. But it's where we are. We have
to come up with some answers. Right now we don't seem to have any
answers."

How bad were they? The Bills didn't score despite three drives
inside the Texans 20, in which they came away with two field goals
and Lindell missing a 29-yarder. Lindell also missed a 45-yard
attempt.

One of those drives stalled when Henry was stuffed for a 1-yard
loss on third-and-goal from the 1.

"It's frustrating, it's embarrassing, as well," said Lindell
of his missed attempts. "I certainly didn't do my job."

Lindell said he rushed one and was too close to the ball on the
other miss.

Texans linebacker Jamie Sharper sealed the victory, ending
Buffalo's last-gasp drive with 1:51 remaining at the Houston 31.
Sharper knocked the ball out of quarterback Drew Bledsoe's hands,
and the fumble was recovered by Shantee Orr.

The game ended when Johnson ran the ball out of his end zone for
a safety to run out the clock. Johnson had a strong outing,
finishing with four catches for 122 yards.<
^Notes: The Bills' red-zone numbers continue to plummet. In 27 trips
inside the opposing 20, Buffalo has managed 13 touchdowns, nine
field goals, four interceptions and one missed field goal. ... The
Texans have scored an offensive touchdown in all 10 games after
scoring one in only nine games last year. ... Bills CB Antoine
Winfield's interception of a Banks' pass was the team's first
takeaway in four games, and Winfield's first since Nov. 11, 2001,
when he intercepted New England's Tom Brady.