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Texans survive Hail Mary for third win

11/24/2002

HOUSTON (AP) -- The Houston Texans aren't just beating bad teams
anymore. They've improved enough to hurt the ones with playoff
aspirations -- like the New York Giants.

Question on the Texans: How can they build on this win?
The Texans are playing decent defense, which is surprising for an expansion team. They have veteran cornerbacks and a good pass rush. Their defense isn't keeping them from winning games. Having a solid D is a great thing to build on for next year, and it's a credit to Dom Capers and his coaching staff. Offensively, the Texans have David Carr, and in the offseason they need to strengthen the O-line and the running game.

Question on the Giants: What does this loss say about their chances in the NFC East?
The Giants let an opportunity slip away. To let it happen against the Texans is even worse. This is a huge, huge loss for New York. It's tough to envision the Giants in the playoffs after seeing them lose to an expansion team. They needed to make a statement. Instead, they continued to struggle.

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

The Texans used a trick play, a big punt return and two field
goals by Kris Brown -- the last one a 50-yarder with 6:57 to play --
to defeat the Giants 16-14 Sunday.

"This one is going to sting,'' Giants quarterback Kerry Collins
said. "We did not play well enough to win, but we are just going
to have to come back and get a win next week.''

Houston (3-8) beat Dallas to open the season and later defeated
Jacksonville, but this was the Texans' first victory over a team
that entered Sunday's games with a winning record.

"This is great. It should lift everyone's spirit,'' Texans
center Steve McKinney said. "It lets all the guys know if we can
hang around until the fourth quarter, we'll have a chance to win.

The Giants (6-5) got a look at the new team in the Hall of Fame
preseason game on Aug. 5 in Canton, Ohio, and New York won 34-17.
But the Texans weren't such an easy mark this time.

"All week long, all I talked about was being ready,'' Giants
coach Jim Fassel said. "I know we made mistakes. They were trying
to play hard and were playing hard, but we just made mistakes too
many times.''

Trailing 14-13 after Collins threw a 31-yard touchdown pass to
Amani Toomer with 13:10 to play, the Texans drove 41 yards to the
Giants 32-yard line, setting up Brown's game-winner.

"That's why I'm here,'' Brown said. "Anytime I get an
opportunity to put points on the board, I've got to make sure I
take advantage.''

It still took two late interceptions -- by Matt Stevens with 5:57
to play and by Jeff Posey with 1:19 left -- to preserve the Texans'
victory, which snapped a three-game losing streak and ended the
Giants' three-game winning streak.

Posey's theft ended New York's next-to-last drive at the Texans
29. New York got the ball back with 22 seconds to play, but a long
pass by Collins fell incomplete in the front part of the end zone
as time expired.

After a dull first half that ended with the Giants leading 7-5,
the Texans enlivened the game with a 39-yard punt return by
Jermaine Lewis to the Giants 34, and another of the Texans' trick
plays, setting up a 1-yard TD run by Jonathan Wells.

Facing third-and-6 from the New York 30 after the punt return,
Carr lateraled across the field to James Allen, who threw the ball
back to Carr, who had an open field and ran to the 2-yard line.

After Wells' touchdown, Carr passed to Allen for the 2-point
conversion and a 13-7 lead. Allen eluded Giants linebacker Mike
Barrow for the two points.

David Carr completed 10 of 23 passes for 103 yards. Collins
finished 18-for-41 for 214 yards for the Giants.

A 70-yard run to the Texans 16-yard line by Tiki Barber, and
Barber's 2-yard touchdown run, gave the Giants a 7-5 lead in a
grueling first half that was filled with miscues.

Barber, who finished with 146 yards, started to his right,
reversed his field and broke free of Texans safety Marcus Coleman
at the sideline and ran down to the Houston 16 before he was
stopped by Coleman.

After Collins completed a 7-yard pass to Toomer, Barber ran
three more times, bouncing into the end zone on the last carry.

The Texans had good field position in the first quarter, but all
they could manage was a 40-yard field goal by Brown early in the
second quarter in a laborious 53-yard drive that took 5:49.

Barber fumbled his first carry, and it was recovered by Houston
linebacker Jamie Sharper at the Giants 27. After two incompletions
by Carr, Allen fumbled at the Giants 24, and it was recovered by
New York's Dhani Jones.

Houston got a safety in the second quarter when deep snapper Bob
Jones sent the ball over punter Matt Allen's head. Allen chased the
ball down and kicked it into his own end zone. He was penalized for
illegally kicking the ball into the end zone, which the Texans
declined and took the two points.

"We made enough mistakes to cost us the game: a field goal
missed that should have been made, a ball over the punter's head to
give them two other points,'' Fassel said. "I'm not happy about
that at all.''

Game notes
The loss was the Giants' first ever to a Houston team. They
were 5-0 against the former Houston Oilers. ... Giants defensive
end Kenny Holmes had three sacks for nine yards in losses. NFL
singled season sack record holder Michael Strahan got the other two
sacks of Carr. Carr's offensive line last week agreed to pay for
his massages if he got sacked more than two times in a game.

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