Filling in for injured starter Davis Carr, Banks outdid Bledsoe, sparking the Houston Texans to a 12-10 victory.
Despite playing only three quarters after Carr bruised his right shoulder 10 minutes into the game, Banks finished with 207 yards passing to Bledsoe’s 184. And, more important, Banks engineered more touchdown drives—one—than Bledsoe has managed in his last three outings.
As the Texans (4-6) celebrated matching their win total from last year’s expansion season, the Bills (4-6) were left shell-shocked after losing their sixth in eight games.
“I’m so mad. I don’t know what to do,” Bledsoe said. “There have been times when offenses I have been on have struggled … but I can’t recall a time when we went three games without a touchdown.”
Besides losing Carr, who will have an MRI exam Monday, the Texans were minus three defensive starters. Cornerback Marcus Coleman and backup linebacker Antwan Peek was suspended for an unspecified violation, and didn’t travel with the team.
No big deal, said Banks.
“Nobody likes sitting on the sideline,” he said. “I’ve played a lot of games in this league, but this is David’s team. I accept that role … and I’m just happy I’m able to help him out.”
Banks has played a key role in two of Houston’s four victories. He led the Texans to a 14-10 win over Carolina last month, his only start while Carr had a sprained ankle.
This time, Banks took over after Carr was hurt when sacked in the end zone by former Texans linebacker Jeff Posey, and fumbled, leading to a Bills safety.
Banks’ 42-yard completion to Johnson on a decisive nine-play, 67-yard drive led to Brown hitting a 34-yarder for a 12-8 lead with 3:23 remaining.
Not bad for a player who failed to keep his starting job with three other teams.
“Tony Banks has been a starter in the past, and I’m sure he could start for a number of teams,” Texans coach Dom Capers said. “We have total confidence in Tony Banks.”
The Bills’ confidence is running low, particularly regarding an offense that is in a deep funk. Those problems were compounded when kicker Rian Lindell missed two field goals.
In its last three games, Buffalo has combined for 21 points, including three safeties. The Bills’ last offensive score was Henry’s 14-yard run in a 24-7 win over Washington on Oct. 19.
“It’s hard for me to believe,” Bills president Tom Donahoe said. “It shouldn’t be happening. But it’s where we are. We have to come up with some answers. Right now we don’t seem to have any answers.”
How bad were they? The Bills didn’t score despite three drives inside the Texans 20, in which they came away with two field goals and Lindell missing a 29-yarder. Lindell also missed a 45-yard attempt.
One of those drives stalled when Henry was stuffed for a 1-yard loss on third-and-goal from the 1.
“It’s frustrating, it’s embarrassing, as well,” said Lindell of his missed attempts. “I certainly didn’t do my job.”
Lindell said he rushed one and was too close to the ball on the other miss.
Texans linebacker Jamie Sharper sealed the victory, ending Buffalo’s last-gasp drive with 1:51 remaining at the Houston 31. Sharper knocked the ball out of quarterback Drew Bledsoe’s hands, and the fumble was recovered by Shantee Orr.
The game ended when Johnson ran the ball out of his end zone for a safety to run out the clock. Johnson had a strong outing, finishing with four catches for122 yards. ^Notes: The Bills’ red-zone numbers continue to plummet. In 27 trips inside the opposing 20, Buffalo has managed 13 touchdowns, nine field goals, four interceptions and one missed field goal. … The Texans have scored an offensive touchdown in all 10 games after scoring one in only nine games last year. … Bills CB Antoine Winfield’s interception of a Banks’ pass was the team’s first takeaway in four games, and Winfield’s first since Nov. 11, 2001,when he intercepted New England’s Tom Brady.