Defense gets nasty in win

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Defensive end Mario Williams had his second sack of the season against the Raiders.

The Texans' defense was looking for any sign of life after three weeks of being bashed. They finally caught a break with the Oakland Raiders.

Rookie linebacker Brian Cushing was the leading tackler. The defense held the Raiders to 45 yards rushing, and 165 total yards, the second-fewest total yards in Texans history. Coach Gary Kubiak had to look hard to find a busted play.

"In this league, guys are making mistakes, guys are out of position, guys miss lanes, you know it does happen in this game," Kubiak said. "We've been having way too many. I can think of one today, but we didn't give them anything. Anything they did, they had to work for. We're more sound on what we were doing, so I would attribute (our performance) to that mostly."

Defensive coordinator Frank Bush heard a chorus of boos after last week's loss to Jacksonville. Bush's defense played a big part in Sunday's 29-6 victory.

{QUOTE}"I feel much better about our defense," Kubiak said. "Obviously, they stepped up and played extremely well. We had some issues going into the game earlier with three new players starting on the back end when it was all said and done. We walked out of the locker rooms today and just, I'm real proud of Frank Bush and rallying the troops. And playing the way they did."

Bush mixed in some new faces and liked the results. Suddenly, defense was fun again for the Texans.

"Everybody was having fun," defensive end Antonio Smith said. "When you are having fun, you don't second-guess what you do. You don't pull up when you can shoot your gun. That's when you make big plays."

After yielding more than 400 yards per game in the first three games, Bush praised the work of strong safety Bernard Pollard, cornerback Glover Quin and safety Dominique Barber.

"We needed a spark, a change-up, something that was going to happen good," Bush said. "Pollard was that spark for us. He was a good spark. It was good he could get in there and make some plays. He'll just get better and better, so we're excited for it."

Bush isn't presenting the Texans' defense as the finished product. At least he's smiling, which is more than he could do after last week's dismantling by the Jacksonville Jaguars.

"I still remember last week and we've got a long way to go," Bush said. "When you try to do a job and you believe in what you're doing and your players seem to take to what you are doing, you want results. We had not been getting the results. Our approach didn't change, we just got better results."

The Texans specialized in being out of position in their first three games. What a change against the Raiders.

"We didn't have any busted plays today," cornerback Dunta Robinson said. "When we line up in our gaps, we know what we're doing on the back end, when the linebackers know what they are doing, when the linemen know what they are supposed to do, we play good football.

"All the big plays we've giving up the last couple of games have been because we were missing being in the right spot. We didn't have that problem today."

Cushing, playing his fourth pro game, has improved each week. He had seven tackles on Sunday and three quarterback hurries.

"This proves our capabilities," Cushing said. "It doesn't prove anything if we don't come week-in week-out and do that. We saw what we have the capabilities of today and we have to have that effort every week."

Bush plans to continue giving Cushing as much as he can handle.

"Brian is doing some things for us," Bush said. "We're trying to take advantage of his talents. Every week there's a new thing he shows us he can do. We just try to keep moving along with him.

"He believes in the system, but more than anything he's a talented player that really brings a lot to the table."

The defense allowed the Raiders to convert only two of 15 third down tries, a dramatic improvement over the first three games.

"The guys up front go after them the whole game," Quin said. "It was a whole team effort. It was total effort. We were trying to respond and play ball for 60 minutes. We wanted to establish ourselves as a defense. We had a lot of critics. We knew what they said that if we kept working, we'd be fine on defense."

Cushing, accustomed to playing on rugged defenses at Southern Cal, had a better feeling after Sunday's game.

"You had that really good feeling that they couldn't do anything against you," Cushing said. "We wanted to keep in front of the gaps. We proved what our abilities are."

Robinson wouldn't call the defense's performance a statement.

"It wasn't about making a statement, it was about playing better as a unit," Robinson said. "It was about putting a complete game together and not worrying about what people say because that part goes with this game."

EDITOR'S NOTE: Michael A. Lutz worked for The Associated Press for 38 years covering news and sports in Louisville, Ky. Dallas and Houston. Most of that time was spent in Houston covering the Oilers, Astros, Texans and other college and pro sports.

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