HOUSTON: Houston Texans linebacker Brian Cushing’s bloodied face was frightening, almost ghoulish.
But the result of his second-quarter altercation with Browns right guard Shawn Lauvao might have inspired Cushing’s teammates during the Texans’ 30-12 victory Sunday at Reliant Stadium.
After Browns quarterback Colt McCoy was picked off by safety Quintin Demps just before halftime, Cushing and Lauvao mixed it up near the Texans’ sideline. Photos showed Lauvao head-butted Cushing, leaving him with a gash in his forehead that required stitches. Lauvao was flagged for unnecessary roughness, and the 10 yards marked off as half the distance to the goal line set up Neil Rackers’ 28-yard field goal.
Asked about the talk in the press box that he head-butted Cushing, Lauvao said, “You can’t believe everything you hear. We were playing hard in the heat of battle.”
Cushing was just as vague.
“It was so quick and a real intense kind of play. I can’t even really remember,” Cushing said. “We talked about it after, myself and him, and we couldn’t even agree who did it first. We were just playing ball and it went a little far.
“A helmet came off. There was a little contact, and I was bleeding a little bit.”
Browns linebacker Scott Fujita, who had a team-high nine tackles, wasn’t happy with some of his teammates’ extracurricular activities.
“Sometimes guys made some mistakes today because they were frustrated,” Fujita said. “Guys doing stupid things after the whistle, those things you can’t have. We’ve got to be smarter than that.”
Cushing said it was the second time he has had a bleeding problem this season. The first came from the bridge of his nose.
“If it’s got to send a message to our team about playing physical and getting them going, I’ll do it every game,” he said.
Browns players were reunited with fullback Lawrence Vickers, a free agent signed by the Texans on Aug. 3 and announced as the starter over recently injured James Casey. (The Texans instead opened with double tight ends.)
“We had a good time and everyone was excited and happy for me,” said Vickers, who played for the Browns from 2006 to 2010. “You spend five years with guys, you continue to have a bond with guys through the telephone.
“It’s a good win because it was the sixth one. Regardless if it was Cleveland or not, I feel the same way. But I do feel a little bit better [because] it was the Browns.”
Browns middle linebacker D’Qwell Jackson said he didn’t have a lot of one-on-one matchups with Vickers, but they spoke before the game.
“He’s playing well,” Jackson said. “He’s happy here. So it’s always good to see an old-time buddy.”
Browns strong safety T.J. Ward left Reliant Stadium with his right foot in a walking boot and his left index finger in a splint.
Ward dislocated his finger early in the game but returned. However, he did not return after he felt a pop in the arch of his foot during the fourth quarter. X-rays were negative, but Ward is expected to have an MRI today.
“I plan on being back next week,” Ward said. “If everything is not broke or torn, I’ll be back.”
Browns receiver Mohamed Massaquoi left the game in the third quarter because “he was feeling a little woozy, so we were being cautious and trying to make sure nothing happened to him,” coach Pat Shurmur said. It was Massaquoi’s first game since he suffered a concussion Oct. 23 against the Seattle Seahawks.
Tony Pashos hurt his right knee in the first half and was replaced by Artis Hicks. Pashos has also been dealing with an injured left ankle all season.
Free safety Usama Young (hip), punter Brad Maynard (leg) and linebacker Kaluka Maiava (knee) suffered injuries but played through them.
There were no major surprises among the Browns’ inactives. Running backs Peyton Hillis (hamstring) and Montario Hardesty (calf), cornerback Dimitri Patterson (knee) and defensive end Auston English (knee) were ruled out before Sunday and didn’t make the trip.
When asked whether the team plans to place Hillis on injured reserve, Shurmur said: “We have not discussed any of that. I don’t know. He reinjured himself on Friday and was evaluated. Then we quickly got on a plane and came here. We’ll go back tomorrow and he’ll get treatment with the rest of the team and we’ll have to see where he’s at. At this point, what we are trying to do is get him healthy so he can play.”
Hillis had an MRI on Friday after aggravating his pulled left hamstring during practice. When asked about the results of the MRI, Shurmur said, “I don’t know the specifics of it.”
With Hillis and Hardesty sidelined, running back Chris Ogbonnaya started against his former team. The Browns signed Ogbonnaya, a Houston native, off the Texans’ practice squad on Oct. 18. He fumbled on the offense’s first play from scrimmage.
“I’ve gotta take care of the ball,” he said. “[I] can’t put our team in that kind of hole.”
With Patterson out, rookie Buster Skrine filled in at nickel back. He had two tackles.
Safety Ray Ventrone was ruled out Sunday with a lingering hamstring he has been dealing with for the past few weeks. Quarterback Thaddeus Lewis and offensive lineman Steve Vallos also were inactive.
Jackson recorded his first interception since Dec. 7, 2008, at Tennessee. With 2:26 left in the second quarter, Jackson intercepted a pass that deflected off the hands of tight end Owen Daniels as free safety Mike Adams hit him.
Browns radio play-by-play announcer Jim Donovan missed his second game of the season with a high fever. Donovan, recovering from a bone marrow transplant, was replaced by Mike Snyder. … The Browns’ first-quarter deficit this season increased to 58-6. … Former President George H.W. Bush served as honorary captain and flipped the coin. McCoy shook his hand before Bush left in a golf cart. … Rookie tight end Jordan Cameron caught his first pass of the season in the third quarter, a 7-yard reception, after lining up at wide receiver. … Wide receiver Josh Cribbs appeared in his 100th regular-season game.