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The bitter end

For a while, a long while, his play was the pivotal moment of the game. It was the game-winner, the culmination of a thrilling, inspirational comeback.


Then suddenly at the end, his play meant nothing.

And Dunta Robinson, like everyone in the Houston Texans locker room, was stunned.

The Buffalo Bills came back at the end of the game to drive 55 yards in seven plays and score a startling touchdown with nine seconds to play for a 24-21 victory. J.P. Losman, of all people, drove the Bills down to the Texans 15, hitting 5-of-5 passes, and then threw a perfect pass to Peerless Price in the back of the end zone to win the game.

"I could understand if it was Peyton Manning," Robinson said. "But J.P. Losman? That's embarrassing. I hope he doesn't feel too good about it because we just shot ourselves in the foot."

More than that, it negated what could have been Robinson's best play as a pro. In the third quarter, he intercepted Losman at the nine-yard line and ran it in for the go-ahead touchdown, a 21-17 lead with 7:02 to play in the period.

It was Robinson's first touchdown as a pro and a critical play that put the Texans in position to win their second game in a row. And it was Robinson's ninth interception as a Texan. But when asked about it afterward, you might as well have been inquiring about a death in the family.

"That play," Robinson said momentarily dropping his head, "really doesn't matter right now. We lost the game.

"I mean, I jumped the route and ran it in. But obviously I didn't do enough today to help my team win. That's all that matters."

The third-year cornerback was nudged to talk further about the play and he grudgingly admitted he knew how big it could have been.

"It was a great feeling," he said. "When you make a play to supposedly win the game, that feeling is one of the best you can have. But at the end of the day, the score was 24-21 and it doesn't matter any more because we didn't win."

What the Texans did was play a game of wild momentum swings. In the beginning, it was almost like they had no defense at all as cornerback Demarcus Faggins was beaten twice in the first quarter for identical 83-yard touchdown passes from Losman to Lee Evans.

"I knew they were going to go deep," Faggins said. "It wasn't a surprise. I thought I would get some help on the first play. On the second one, he just ran past me.

"I was sick. But as a defensive back, you've got to forget that quickly."

Evans had a phenomenal 209 yards on six catches during the first quarter. He finished with a Bills record 265 yards receiving on 11 catches, but Faggins and the Texans played him well most of the rest of the game.

"We made some adjustments," Faggins said. "I came back and made a couple of plays."

Robinson agreed.

"(Faggins) struggled at the start, but he was courageous," Robinson said. "And the coaches didn't get down on him. He came back and made a lot of plays."

So did the defense as a whole, holding Losman to 76 yards passing the final three quarters until the last drive.

"We played really well on defense the second half," coach Gary Kubiak said. "They were the reason we had the lead. But then we have the play at the end and that can't happen. We've got to get it fixed."

The back-and-forth nature of the game was a puzzle to Robinson.

"We shut the door on them the second half," he said. "Before that last drive, we had confidence we could stop them. When we went out on the field for that drive, we knew we could stop them.


"This is the worst feeling I've ever had in a game. I really couldn't tell what happened on that last play because I was up close. I just looked up and the ball was in the air and Jason Simmons was doing everything he could to get to the ball."

The Texans had no excuses for that last play.

"He's an NFL receiver and that's what he gets paid to do," safety Jason Simmons said. "It hurts any time you lose, but this one really hurts.

"Sure, we played well in the second half, but it's not how you play in the beginning, it's how you finish. We had a chance to make a play at the end and we didn't make it. It's really tough to come up short in a game like this."

Safety Glenn Earl was as stunned as the rest of the Texans.

"They just made a play at the end," Simmons said. "I guess there's no defense for the perfect throw.

"This hurts. We had the feeling all game we were going to win. We thought we'd be walking out of this stadium with a win.

"It breaks your heart."

EDITOR'S NOTE:Jim Carley is a veteran Houston sportswriter who has covered the NFL for more than 25 years. He has worked for such newspapers as the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, The Houston Post, the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner and the National Sports Daily covering such teams as the Dallas Cowboys, the Houston Oilers, the Los Angeles Rams and the Oakland Raiders.

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