Linebacker Keith Bulluck is one of the more entertaining members of the Tennessee Titans, especially when it comes to dealing with the media and throwing out quotable quips.
But when primetime games roll around, Bulluck ratchets his schtick up a notch or two, even having dubbed himself as “Mr. Monday Night” during the week before a Monday night game in New Orleans in 2007. Bulluck then went out and lived up to the self-proclaimed moniker with three interceptions against the Saints in the game.
With the Titans appearing on Monday Night Football again this week against the Houston Texans, Bulluck was back to his old tricks on Thursday.
“I plan to have a great game, one of those throwback ‘Mr. Monday Night’ games,” Bulluck said. “I’m definitely looking forward to it, playing in Houston on Monday night. I guess it’s kind of like it’s beginning to be a rivalry, so it’s gonna be fun playing those guys.”
The Texans defeated the Titans at LP Field, 34-31, in the second week of the season to win their second straight in the budding rivalry.
“I think we’ve established a rivalry now. We’ve gone there and lost, they beat us here at home. I think we’ve established a rivalry now,” Titans coach Jeff Fisher said.
But Bulluck acted as if Houston was maybe trying a little too hard to make the game a “rivalry” against the organization that once toiled in that city.
“It’s kind of been one-sided, and it’ll probably continue to be that way. The Houston Texans are playing pretty good football this year. Things could be better for them, could be better for us, but we’re not here to discuss that,” Bulluck said. “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. 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.”
Bulluck said the 3-6 Titans are playing loose and riding a three-game winning streak, and will have their sights set on spoiling what many in Houston are calling one of the biggest games in franchise history.
“They have a huge stage Monday night. We both do. We’re a 3-6 team with nothing to lose,” Bulluck said. “I know they have playoff aspirations, and we’re looking forward to coming down to Houston and destroying all playoff thoughts and aspirations that they have. Thank you.”
The Texans are 5-4 and tied with Jacksonville for second in the AFC South, and Bulluck gives them credit for being an improved team.
“I’ve been here since they’ve been in existence. So that’s like less than 10 years that they’ve been in existence. Like I said, the last couple of years, they’ve been playing good football,” he said. “For them to be a young expansion team, they’re making all strides in the right direction.”
But in terms of the rivalry, Bulluck isn’t so sure it’s as big a rivalry to the Titans as it is to the Texans, who replaced that organization six years after the move to Tennessee.
“I don’t know, when it comes to a rivalry, I think everybody in the AFC South is a rivalry, because the Houston Texans swear every time they have a game against AFC conference team, it’s a rivalry game,” he said.
So are the Titans more like the ex-spouse and the Texans the new flame to the fans in Houston?
“That’s a good one. I don’t know if I want to answer that. We’re more like distant cousins,” Bulluck said. “We did have a relationship in the sense that this organization used to be in Houston, but we’re more like cousins. They’re like our fourth or fifth cousin. We don’t really acknowledge them.”