HOUSTON — Keith Bulluck caught the Houston Texans’ attention during the week before the Tennessee Titans’ 20-17 victory  Monday Night at Reliant Stadium.
Bulluck had said during the week that the Texans were treating every game as the biggest in franchise history and victories like the one in week two over the Titans like playoff victories.
“We’re talking about a team that hasn’t even sniffed the playoffs before. So I guess when they beat us and other teams in the [division], I guess to them, it’s like a playoff win,” Bulluck had said Thursday. “It does something for them. I remember last game, it was only the second game of the season, but for them, it was like the AFC Championship.”
But, on Monday night, he stuck to his guns and the Titans backed it up, despite a 305-yard performance from quarterback Matt Schaub. The Texans lost a chance to tie the game when Kris Brown’s 49-yard field goal was wide left. It was Brown’s second miss in the final seconds in as many weeks, as he failed on a kick at Indianapolis just before the bye.
“I definitely got under their skin, because they didn’t say anything back,” Bulluck said of his comments. “I wasn’t trash talking, I was just stating facts. If you look and read what I said, I really was just stating facts. The Houston Texans organization has a bright future. They have great football players on that team.”
Nick Harper had a bit of a rough first half, but settled down in his return to the lineup after missing four games with a broken forearm. Harper was victimized by Andre Johnsons’ 12-yard touchdown in the second quarter, but he and the Titans held up in the second half, limiting Houston to just three points after halftime.
What was the difference? Pressure, said Harper, from the Titans’ defensive line, which had four sacks nine hurries of Matt Schaub.
“They do a lot of trickery plays. If the quarterback doesn’t have time to do all those switches and double moves, their offense doesn’t work,” Harper said. “Their offense is based on big plays. If you can get to the quarterback enough times to stop them from running all those trick plays and deep routes, their offense doesn’t work. They don’t like to dink and dunk the ball.”
Harper said the Texans did try to test his arm out. He was wearing a protective cast on it.
“I felt like they were going after my arm. A couple of times they were going after it. Of course, they’re gonna go after it. They were just out there running their offense,” Harper said.
VY humble but fiery guy
Teammates say they see a noticeable difference in Vince Young this time around as a starter, and that the change has been for the better.
Young is now 4-0 since assuming command as quarterback again and is now 22-11 as a starter. On Monday night, he was 12 of 22 for 116 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 73 yards on 11 carries.
“Humility goes a long way, and he’ll tell you he was humbled by his situation. He puts himself in every situation in order to be successful,” tight end Alge Crumpler said. “And for the first time in a long time, I saw, not that calmness that he had the first three weeks, but he had a little fire in his eyes, and it worked out in our favor.”
Asked about the play where he jawed with Texans linebacker Brian Cushing who hit him out of bounds and got a 15-yard penalty, Young said afterwards, “In the first of the moment, guys are just trying to make plays. It talked to him after the game and I told him, ‘Good game’ and ‘Don’t listen to me during the game. I’m just caught up in the game like you are.’ He respected that.”
Young was pulled away from the fray by guard Jake Scott, who was concerned that the play clock had started and his quarterback was distracted.
“He needed to get back in the huddle and move on. He was jawing and he was upset, because it was a late hit,” Scott said. “I don’t know that it was malicious. He was upset about it and rightfully so. But they’re not gonna wait. They’re gonna start the play clock. I just had to grab him, get him out of there and get him back in the huddle.”
The Titans decided to deactivate their return man Alvin Pearman, using Kevin Kaesviharn on punt returns and Michael Griffin on kickoffs.
“I knew there was always that possibility. We talked about it before the game, and I was ready if that was the route we were going to take,” Kaesviharn said.
Kaesviharn fair caught every punt except one that went for a touchback. The veteran safety had been
away from the team all week after complications regarding the premature birth of his daughter.
“She’s doing better. My wife got to hold her today for the first time. She’s doing great. I’m going to go home tomorrow morning and check in on her and get back to work on Wednesday,” he said.
The Titans gave a game ball to director of community relations Bob Hyde, who coordinator the Oilers Weekend of Champions, and stayed in town to oversee that despite the death of his brother late last week.
Defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch left the game for a bit after hyperextending his knee, but said he was fine afterwards. Vanden Bosch collected his second sack of the year on a play where he lined up as the left defensive tackle.
Sen’Derrick Marks left the game with an undisclosed injury for the Titans.