For the third time in as many tries, Kyle Vanden Bosch’s day ended prematurely.
Vanden Bosch, still battling a strained groin, left the Tennessee Titans’ 19-16 victory over the Green Bay Packers in the second quarter and did not return to the game.
Vanden Bosch sat out Monday night against Indianapolis in an attempt to get the injury to heal, and has had to make early exits both against Baltimore, when he originally suffered the injury, and at Kansas City two weeks later.
“It was all right, but I couldn’t explode and I couldn’t drive off it that good. I don’t have an answer. I think in another week, it’ll be fine, but I don’t know,” Vanden Bosch said.
The two-time Pro Bowl defensive end was able to get in a full week of practice last week after ending his 54-game consecutive starts streak on Monday to allow more healing time, but is a bit frustrated over not being able to get the injury behind him.
“I practiced all week last week, and it felt great. I didn’t have any setbacks in practice. I’ve just got to do what my body tells me,” Vanden Bosch said. “I didn’t set it back. It just wasn’t ready. It’s frustrating because it’s just one of those things where you can’t will it to get better. I’ve just got to give it time.”
While he admits to be agitated with not being able to contribute as much as he would like, he could take solace in the fact that his backups — Jacob Ford and Dave Ball — contributed three of the four sacks the Titans got on Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
“It’s a little bit frustrating, but it’s tough to be frustrated right now, considering that we’re 8-0. The d-line played well today. I’ve just got to do everything I can to get back healthy,” Vanden Bosch said.
Ford also caused a fumble that Stephen Tulloch recovered on one of his sacks in the game.
“We just had an inside stunt, where I come down and I just pressed the gap and the guard came off me. I just hit him and tried to strip him,” Ford said.
Other injuries: Linebacker Keith Bulluck, like Vanden Bosch, a staple of the defense, also left the game for a time with cracked rib cartilage. He exited in the second quarter, shortly after Vanden Bosch departed, but managed to return and finish the game.
“I cracked some cartilage in my ribs, and it was giving me a little tough time out there today but I was able to fight it off and come back and help my team out,” Bulluck said.
Quarterback Kerry Collins was asked in the postgame press conference if he had had any sort of ankle injury during the game, but indicated that it was “just a little sore” and no cause for concern.
Busy day: Kicker Rob Bironas was able to nail the game-winning 41-yard field goal after missing a 47-yarder that could have won the game at the end of regulation.
He said he was hoping for another chance after his 47-yarder glanced off the upright.
“I was hoping for exactly what happened — we’d win the toss and get another shot at it. I don’t miss many, so I definitely wanted another shot to put us in the lead and go home with the victory.”
Bironas, who already owns the NFL record for most field goals in a game with eight last year at Houston, nearly got a chance to tie Tom Dempsey and Jason Elam for the longest field goal. At the end of the half, Bironas lined up for what would have been a record-tying 63-yard attempt, but holder Craig Hentrich aborted the chance for the kick when Green Bay dropped a safety back to return the kick if it missed.
“In my mind, I was ready to kick it,” Bironas said. “I mean, we were going out there to kick it. The only problem you have is that it’s 63 yards. If it doesn’t get there, you’ve got a returner bringing it back against 10 linemen or nine linemen, so odds are, he’s going to be a lot quicker than the rest of us out there.”
Ready to appeal: Jevon Kearse was called for a horse collar tackle on Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers after what would have been a third-down stop. The penalty helped lead to the Packers’ only touchdown of the game.
Kearse pleaded his innocence regarding the horse collar, and said coach Jeff Fisher did the same when he came out to check on Kearse, who was kicked in the calf and down for a moment on the play.
“I certainly disagree with the horse collar call. I’ve never seen someone get horse-collared and still fall forward,” Kearse said. “Whenever I get that fine in the mail, I’m going to be appealing that one.”
As for Fisher checking on him, he said the coach had a two-fold mission.
“He was talking to the ref and telling him that wasn’t a horse collar,” Kearse said.
No interference: Speaking of potentially blown calls, offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger could be seen ranting at an official on the sideline after the Titans were forced to settle for Bironas’ 22-yard field goal in the third quarter. Heimerdinger and the Titans wanted a pass interference call on Packers linebacker Brandon Chillar, who appeared to wrap himself around tight end Bo Scaife as Kerry Collins released the ball.
Collins was diplomatic about the non-call after the game.
“It was close. I’ve seen it go both ways. It looked like he may have gotten there a little early, but those calls can go either way,” Collins said.
Mixing it up: Speaking of calls, the Titans benefited from a 15-yard personal foul penalty when Packers linebacker Brady Poppinga was flagged for a blow to the head against Titans right tackle David Stewart.
Stewart, known for being a physical player, said he might have coerced Poppinga into the penalty.
“I may have had the first one, and he retaliated,” Stewart said with a slight grin.