Houston (1-10) at Baltimore (3-8)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Baltimore, MD
Temp: 16° F
  • Game info: 1:00 pm EST Sun Dec 4, 2005
  • TV: CBS
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Brian Billick is in the midst of his worst season as an NFL coach. That doesn’t mean he isn’t looking for ways to make the most of the Baltimore Ravens’ final five games, including this week’s matchup with the league-worst Houston Texans.

“I won’t be disappointed when it’s over. It’s not been easy,” Billick admitted. “It’s not been easy on a lot of people, it’s not been easy on my family. But I wouldn’t miss these next five weeks to find out about myself, about these guys, about this organization. I’m energized by that. They have been too, so far.”

The Ravens have been ravaged by injuries to key players, such as perennial All-Pro linebacker Ray Lewis and safety Ed Reed, winners of the last two NFL player of the year awards.

Billick is hopeful Lewis and Reed will be available for Sunday’s game, but Lewis is listed as doubtful and Reed is questionable on the team’s injury report. The status of starting cornerbacks Chris McAlister and Samari Rolle is also uncertain, and McAlister is listed as questionable for Sunday.

Baltimore was down 34-0 before it got into the end zone in last Sunday’s 42-29 loss to AFC North-leading Cincinnati. Jamal Lewis rushed for 113 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries but the Ravens were unable to build on the momentum of a 16-13 overtime win over Pittsburgh the week before.

“I’m excited about the way Jamal ran,” Billick said. “Jamal clearly had a rhythm and got stronger as he went. That was a classic situation where this team could have folded up emotionally and didn’t. I feel good how the guys responded to the challenge.”

Billick is also confident in the continued development of quarterback Kyle Boller.

“That’s the next box we have to check off,” Billick said. “We know he can do it. There can be no doubt in anyone’s mind, because we’ve seen it. Now, can it be consistent from game to game? That’s part of the criteria.”

Boller agrees.

“The one thing I need to do is put it together for a full game,” he said after throwing for 211 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions against the Bengals. “The main thing is, I need to be consistent.”

Houston, which is in position to claim the first pick in next year’s draft, has dropped four straight games, including a hard-to-believe 33-27 overtime setback to St. Louis last Sunday. The Texans squandered a 21-point halftime lead.

“I felt sick out there,” said Texans center Steve McKinney. “I was so disgusted I wanted to throw up.”

Houston piled up 412 yards of total offense and quarterback David Carr found wideout Andre Johnson for 12 catches, 159 yards and a touchdown.

“We are getting better,” Carr said. “We just can’t let this situation, as dramatic as it is, affect what happens the rest of the time we are out there.”

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