But his trouble didn't stop there, as Houston Texans fans piled
on the abuse with a steady stream of boos that began in the first
quarter and reached a crescendo in the final three minutes of a
22-14 loss to the hapless Browns.
The Texans' franchise quarterback, who was sacked six times, was
flattened by Alvin McKinley with 2:34 left in the game. The crowd
jeered Carr while he was sprawled on the turf, and when he was
escorted off the field.
Backup Tony Banks entered the game with the crowd chanting his
name and responded with a 16-yard pass completion.
A play later, when Carr re-entered the game, the crowd reached
its nastiest point, voicing displeasure with a roar of boos.
Carr said he didn't blame the fans for their reaction.
"I'd boo too," he said. "From what we were putting on the
field today, I was booing in the huddle. It was embarrassing."
Carr went 15-of-25 for 114 yards with a touchdown.
The loss ruined the Texans' (7-9) chances of going .500 this
season, but left them with two more wins than in 2003.
Kelly Holcomb's return to the lineup provided a lift to the
punchless Browns' offense, and Cleveland, which broke a nine-game
losing streak, surprised the Texans with a thoroughly dominating
effort in the season finale for both teams.
"It's very disappointing to come out and lose to a team that
has only won three games before this one," said Texans cornerback
Dunta Robinson. "There's no excuse for this one."
Lee Suggs had his third straight 100-yard rushing day and Phil
Dawson kicked a team-record tying five field goals, giving Browns
interim coach Terry Robiskie his only win in five games since
replacing Butch Davis on Nov. 30.
Since Davis resigned following a wacky loss to Cincinnati,
Robiskie and many of the players unabashedly campaigned for turning
his gig into a full-time job. The Browns' inspired performance
spoke volumes about the team's belief in the wildly popular former
Cleveland (4-12) looked much better with Holcomb than rookie
Luke McCown at the helm of its offense.
After missing more than a month with cracked ribs, Holcomb led
the Browns to their best offensive performance since that 58-48
loss to the Bengals. Holcomb started that game, throwing a
franchise-record tying five TDs.
Against the Texans, Holcomb finished 20-of-29 for 228 yards with
a touchdown and two interceptions. Suggs had 131 yards on 26
carries, and most importantly, no fumbles a week after coughing up
the ball three times in a loss at Miami.
The Texans, on the other hand, rarely got anything going Sunday.
"We need to be slapped in the face," said Texans tight end
Billy Miller. "It was despicable. It was disgraceful. It was one
of those learning experiences."
The lowlights started when Texans cornerback DeMarcus Faggins
intercepted Holcomb at the Cleveland 37 to give Houston excellent
field position with 42 seconds left in the half. But after a quick
first down, Carr was sacked for a 10-yard loss, threw incomplete
and was harassed into a 1-yard scramble.
The sellout crowd of 70,724 roundly booed the team, which
trailed 9-7, but things only got worse for the Texans after the
Holcomb threw an interception on the Browns' first play after
halftime, but Houston went three-and-out. Then Holcomb capped an
80-yard drive with a 9-yard touchdown pass to tight end Steve
Heiden to end Houston's 13-quarter streak of not allowing a
touchdown, an NFL high this season.
Domanick Davis scored on a 1-yard run and finished with 103
yards on 17 carries for Houston.
"Our team has made progress, but we certainly aren't where we
want to be," Texans coach Dom Capers said. "We'll get back to
work and do everything we can to improve this football team."