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Pats tied game late in regulation

11/23/2003

HOUSTON (AP) -- For all his misfortune Sunday, Adam Vinatieri
wasn't going to let New England's winning streak end with a tie.

Question on the Patriots: Despite his struggles today, is Tom Brady one of the most overlooked quarterbacks?
There's no doubt that Brady is one of the most overlooked quarterbacks in the NFL. He's an extremely savvy quarterback and one of the great winners in the league. What other Super Bowl MVP quarterback could be thought of as an overlooked quarterback? Hopefully he gets the respect he deserves soon.

Question on the Texans: Despite their record, how impressive of a job has Dom Capers done this season?
Capers is a good football coach and continues to prove it with his work with the Texans. He's done a fantastic job this season and his work can't be overlooked. He's fashioned Tony Banks into a dangerous quarterback and he's running a fundamental football team.

Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.

He rebounded from a miss off the right upright in regulation and
a block early in overtime to hit a 28-yarder with 41 seconds left.
The Patriots escaped Houston with a 23-20 victory, extending their
winning streak to seven and establishing their best 11-game start
at 9-2.

Vinatieri appeared poised to win it for the Patriots in the
opening moments of overtime. The Texans' Tony Banks, starting as
David Carr sat with a sprained right shoulder, threw an
interception right to Mike Vrabel on the first play. But Ramon
Walker gave the Texans a stay with the first field goal block in
franchise history, coming free from the left side to deflect
Vinatieri's 37-yard try.

"At that point I was a little down, but I had faith in our
defense," Vinatieri said. "I just wanted another opportunity and
I thought the defense would give it to me."

It did, although it took awhile.

The Patriots and Texans (4-7) bogged down in a defensive war
that Houston appeared to win when Jamie Sharper's sack forced a
punt from the 4-yard line. The Texans set up on the outer edge of
Kris Brown's field goal range at the New England 35.

Willie McGinest proceeded to take over, stopping Texans rookie
Domanick Davis for no gain, then tackling him for a 5-yard loss.
Banks fired incomplete on third down and Houston had to punt back
to the Patriots, who didn't give up the ball again.

"We talk a lot on our team about hanging in there and playing
60 minutes of football. Today was what, 74?" Patriots coach Bill
Belichick said.

Brady was 29-of-47 for 368 yards and two touchdowns, but his two
interceptions and a lost fumble -- plus a 38-yard miss off the right
upright by Vinatieri just before halftime -- kept the Texans in the
game. Kevin Faulk had eight catches for 108 yards and 80 yards
rushing for New England.

Banks, who helped beat Buffalo 12-10 last week after Carr was
injured in the first quarter, was just 10-of-25 for 93 yards with
two touchdowns. The Patriots outgained the Texans 472-169, though
it didn't show on the scoreboard.

"We never thought that we were out of it the whole game,"
Texans receiver Jabar Gaffney said. "We were just doing little
things to keep ourselves out of it."

Houston looked poised to go on its first winning streak midway
into the fourth quarter when Brady lost the ball on a hit by Kailee
Wong and Jay Foreman scooped the fumble and ran 33 yards to the New
England 31.

Banks made New England pay when he hit wide-open tight end Billy
Miller in the end zone to make it 17-13 with 6:49 left. Houston
increased its lead to 20-13 two minutes later when Walker blocked a
punt at the Patriots 20 and Brown converted a 31-yard field goal.

"It doesn't matter how you play, if you lose it's all the
same," Walker said. "When you know you are a couple of plays from
winning, it hurts even more."

The Patriots, who have won nine of 10, rallied with an 80-yard
drive that ended with Brady's pass to Graham and Vinatieri's extra
point to force overtime.

When New England hunkered down for Vinatieri's 37-yard field
goal try three minutes into overtime, Walker juked around a blocker
and batted the ball.

"I gave him an up-and-in move, got in free and laid down for
the block," Walker said.

Houston took an early lead on Kris Brown's 19-yard field goal
after the Patriots made a three-play defensive stand at their 1.
The score capped a 79-yard drive, but Houston lost a combined 14
yards on its other possessions of the first half.

New England went ahead 7-3 on a 27-yard TD pass from Brady to
rookie Bethel Johnson, who started because Troy Brown missed his
second straight game with a leg injury.

Eric Brown appeared to stop the Pats on their next drive with an
interception in front of his goal line, but Johnson stripped and
recovered the ball at the 7 to set up a 21-yard field goal.

The Texans tied it 10-10 late in the third quarter when Marcus
Coleman returned an interception to the New England 11 and Banks
found Andre Johnson for a 10-yard score.

^Notes:@ The other time New England started 8-2 was 1978. The
Houston Oilers beat them 26-23 in the 11th game. ... Walker's punt
block was the second in franchise history. ... The Pats improved to
62-41-1 against teams that make up the AFC South. It's the only
division in which New England has an all-time winning record
against each team.

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