Texans get blitzed on late gamble

Rushing 8 opens door to second straight collapse on Clayton catch

Ravens Gameday

Ravens 16 Texans 15

December 05, 2005|By BILL ORDINE | BILL ORDINE,SUN REPORTER

For the second week in a row, the Houston Texans managed to turn glee into despair in less time than it takes the opposing pass rush to sack besieged quarterback David Carr.

Just as good teams specialize in last-minute victories, the 1-11 Texans are blazing a trail in devising ways to lose in the waning moments. In yesterday's 16-15 loss to the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium, the Texans succumbed while executing a risky defensive scheme after they had taken a two-point lead with 68 seconds left in the game.

The week before, Houston squandered a 10-point lead with less than a minute left in regulation while playing more conservatively and went on to lose in overtime to the St. Louis Rams.

"You could write a book about it," said Carr , who was sacked five times on his way to a 17-for-37, 165-yard performance. "I mean, two weeks in a row. In seven days to have two things like that happen. It's tough, especially the situation we're in, it makes it harder."

Even with all the sacks and an interception that was returned for a touchdown by Ravens linebacker Adalius Thomas, the Texans managed to edge ahead 15-13 on Kris Brown's fifth field goal of the day with 1:08 left.

But with 20 seconds left and the Ravens on the Houston 45-yard line trying desperately to move downfield, the Texans made a decision to throw an all-out blitz at quarterback Kyle Boller, rushing eight men. The move backfired when Boller hit wide receiver Mark Clayton, who eluded the grasp of safety C.C. Brown at the 36-yard line and dashed to the 10. Moments later, Matt Stover's field goal made the Ravens 4-8.

Inside the Texans' locker room, there was grumbling about the gamble taken by the coaching staff.

"They had [Todd] Heap up the field [on a play earlier in the drive for a 24-yard gain] when we were playing a more conservative defense," Houston coach Dom Capers said. "We didn't want to give them another ball up the middle of the field against the zone, so we decided to go ahead and max blitz them and they made the play against the max blitz. When you're in a blitz situation, you going to live by the sword and die by the sword."

The defender on the man-to-man coverage, Brown, was filling in for regular free safety Marcus Coleman, who was being disciplined for missing a team walk-through, Capers said.

Brown said it was both a good play by Clayton and a poor one by him. Had he been able to make the tackle where the ball was caught, the Ravens - with no timeouts - would have been rushed to spike the ball so that they could try what would have been about a 53-yard kick.

So when Brown saw Clayton headed downfield, what were his thoughts? "Shoot, I screwed up," the safety said softly.

But some of defensive coordinator Vic Fangio's players were less than thrilled by the blitz call that sent eight rushers at Boller and left the secondary in a perilous position.

Carr, who has taken 55 sacks this season, said he preferred to have his teammates emotional rather than resigned after the loss.

"If they just walked in and they just said it didn't matter what happened, that would be one thing," Carr said. "But guys care and they're upset that they lost."

bill.ordine@baltsun.com

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