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Houston Texans

Valiant veteran

             In his first start as a Texan, backup quarterback Tony
                 Banks completed 13 of 19 passes for 154 yards and one
             touchdown without throwing a pick in the Texans'
             come-from-behind 14-10 victory over the Carolina Panthers.
             Although his stats don't jump off the page as spectacular, they
             hardly do justice for how good Banks played and what kind of
             impact he had on the team.


Banks drops back to pass behind the Texans' offensive line.

In the first half of Sunday's game, the Panthers largely controlled the tempo with a tough running attack that grinded out four time-consuming drives. At halftime, the Texans found themselves with a 7-0 deficit and knew they would have to claw their way back in the last 30 minutes of the game against one of the NFL's staunchest defenses.

Claw their way back is exactly what the Texans did due in large part to Banks. In the Texans' first possession of the second half, Banks led the offense on a 13-play, 73-yard scoring drive that ate up a team-record 8:17. Banks made two 11-yard passes to WR Andre Johnson and TE Billy Miller on key third-down plays to prolong the drive before RB Stacey Mack ran in a score from one yard away.

Banks wasn't done orchestrating quite yet. On the team's next possession, he connected with Johnson on two passes for 12 and 35 yards, respectively. He put the finishing touches on the drive by hitting Miller over the middle for a 20-yard score to put the Texans up for good.

"There comes a time when you have to cut it loose a little bit," Banks said. "Luckily, I made a couple nice throws. I think I gave (coach Palmer) confidence to where he could call the things he wanted to call and the rest is history."

On the two scoring drives, Banks was very accurate, completing seven of the nine passes he attempted despite being under some heavy pressure from a tenacious Panthers defensive line.

"I've always been accurate if my technique was sound," Banks said. "In practice, I've been throwing the ball as well as I ever have. So I've been feeling good."

Although the Texans didn't score again, Banks truly demonstrated his poise under pressure when the offense put together a late fourth-quarter drive in an attempt to run out the clock and foil any potential comeback by the Panthers.

With 5:55 left in the game, the Texans held a slim four-point advantage. Banks rallied the troops and converted two third-down passes to keep the clock running.

In one of the passes, to WR Jabar Gaffney, Banks slipped through the pocket after it had collapsed, quickly saw how Gaffney was being face-guarded and then rifled a pass to the surprise of the defender to gain 12 yards and keep the drive alive.

"That was a huge third-down catch," Banks said. "We were down in our own territory as far as field position, we were able to keep the ball moving. That was the biggest play of the game in my opinion."

The scoring drive, which lasted 5:54 and covered 51 yards, sealed the Texans' third victory of the season and it showed just how good of hands the Texans are in, even if their starting quarterback is out of action.

While a lot of reserve quarterbacks would have trouble stepping into a starting role on a team with three consecutive defeats, Banks showed no hesitation. Instead, he led by example and took the offense under his wings after a rough first half.

"He's a veteran, he's not a rookie who's been thrown in," Miller said. "We threw a guy in who has been on the battlefield before and he looked great. I'm tipping my hat to him. He definitely was the player of the game. He was poised, never complained, and kept it going."

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