Texans 3

(5-9, 2-6 away)

Buccaneers 16

(7-7, 3-4 home)

1:00 PM ET, December 14, 2003


1 2 3 4 T
HOU 0 0 3 03
TB 7 6 3 016

Tampa clings to slim playoff hopes

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- Without the arms of quarterback David Carr or backup Tony Banks, the Texans lost their second game in a row Sunday but promised Carr would be back to face the Tennessee Titans at home next Sunday.

Allen's Analysis
Eric Allen
Question on the Texans: Could Carr be rushed back given the lack of offense generated by Ragone (three points last two games)?
The Texans don't have a shot at the playoffs, so anything the team does now will affect next season. For that reason, I don't believe it's in the best interests of the team or Carr to rush him back. He must do what's best for him and the team while rehabbing. Since the season is lost, it's of no use to rush back and risk further injury. Carr should be 100 percent before he steps back onto the field. A 100 percent Carr gives the Texans a better opportunity to win next season.

Question on the Bucs: Do you see them in the playoffs or is this "too little, too late?"
The Bucs playoff hopes probably are going to come down to the last regular season game. Luckily for the team, they're one of the teams that has the ability to string together three or four wins at the end of the season. Bucs coach Jon Gruden does a great job at the end of the season of preparing his teams. He'll keep this team competitive down to the wire, and if it's successful, then it might be able to sneak into the playoffs and do some damage.

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

"It's frustrating, but next week we are going to roll," Texans center Steve McKinney said of the team's 16-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. "We'll get all our guys back, get Dave back, get everybody healthy, and we'll turn this thing around to end the season."

The second half of the season has been full of injuries for the second year team, which has had to deal with Carr's injured right shoulder, backup Banks' season-ending right hand fracture, standout rookie running back Domanick Davis' deep right thigh bruise and Pro Bowl cornerback Aaron Glenn reinjured groin.

"The credibility of the team this time of year is based on the effort they give," Texans coach Dom Capers said. "We battled our tails off defensively in the second half. We fought to the last of the game and as long as we have that effort, our day will come."

The victory gave the Bucs (7-7) their first two-game winning streak and lifted the defending champs to .500 for the first time in six weeks.

To earn one of two NFC wild-card berths, though, they'll likely have to win remaining games against Atlanta and Tennessee, plus get lots of outside help.

"Our job is to keep winning," safety John Lynch said.

Thomas Jones ran for 134 yards and a touchdown in his second start for the Bucs, who have won three of four since ending a three-game skid that left them in danger of missing the postseason for the first time since 1998.

Jones, who's trying to jump-start his career after three disappointing seasons in Arizona, scored on an 18-yard run in the first quarter. Martin Gramatica added field goals of 36, 23 and 26 yards.

Brad Johnson completed 17 of 28 passes for 237 yards and no interceptions for Tampa Bay. McCardell had five receptions for 59 yards, including a 14-yarder that put him over 1,000 yards for the fifth time in his career.

The Bucs defense played without All-Pro tackle Warren Sapp, but Houston (5-9) wasn't able to take advantage and gained just 107 yards. The Texans avoided being shut out for the second straight game with Kris Brown's 38-yard field goal in the third quarter.

The win capped another tumultuous week for the Bucs, who are on the verge of losing general manager Rich McKay because of his differences with coach Jon Gruden, who has grown tired of questions about his relationship with the GM.

Atlanta owner Arthur Blank said Sunday he plans to meet with McKay about becoming the Falcons' GM.

Houston was still looking for its first touchdown with rookie Dave Ragone running the offense for the second week. The Texans were held to 124 yards in a 27-0 loss at Jacksonville.

Ragone completed 9 of 17 passes for just 64 yards and was sacked five times. Davis returned to Houston's lineup after sitting out the previous week, but was held to 56 yards rushing on 16 carries.

The Texans were outgained 210-46 in the first half, although Houston might have been able to make a game of it if rookie Andre Johnson had been able to hang onto three passes that could have made a difference.

"That's the nature of this game," Ragone said. "We're not going to sit here and say those three plays changed the game because the 60 other plays we were out there we could've done something different. As young players, we all made mistakes."

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Scoring Summary

tbFG7:14Martin Gramatica 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 6 plays, 72 yds, 1:47
tbTD8:32Thomas Jones, 18 yd run
Drive info: 8 plays, 53 yds, 3:42
Drive info: 8 plays, 53 yds, 3:42
tbFG10:18Martin Gramatica 10 yd Field Goal010
houFG9:23Kris Brown 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 8 plays, -9 yds, 2:31
tbFG0:47Martin Gramatica 10 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 14 plays, 72 yds, 6:46