Banks Pays Dividend

From Associated Press

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, on Sunday.

Banks is the first quarterback other than David Carr to start for the second-year Texans (3-5). Carr was out because of 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 Baltimore Ravens and St. Louis Rams. But against Carolina's vaunted defense, he was 13 for 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," Panther Coach John Fox said.

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 Panther 20 with 9 1/2 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 four 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 quarterback, Houston lost rookie tailback Domanick Davis to a strained chest muscle 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 Davis and tied score, 7-7, halfway through the third quarter with a one-yard scoring lunge.

After Miller's touchdown in the final period, Carolina moved to Houston's 31.

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.

Carolina's Davis, the NFC's leading rusher, finished with 153 yards in 30 carries. "I would rather have 11 yards and a win," he said.

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