ESPN’s cameras captured the Houston defensive lineman delivering an elbow to Mawae’s ribs while he was still on top of the Tennessee center early in the fourth quarter. Smith drew an unnecessary roughness call that cost the Texans 15 yards and a first down.
“Sometimes you get players who play in a way that I don’t think is an honorable way to play,” Smith said. “And when you have to come back to cut somebody, or cut somebody who ain’t looking, that’s like you’re going to end somebody’s career, that’s like you’re going to put somebody out of the game. You’ve got a good understanding with that.”
I waited on doing an item with Smith's comments until I had a chance to talk to Mawae about it after Titans practice Wednesday, in order to let each player have his say.
“I go left and I cut him one way,” Mawae said, talking me through a stunt the Texans' defensive line used on the play. “He stops and comes back and as I am getting up I just cut him again. As he drapes over me he comes up and gives me an elbow into the left rib cage. It’s part of the game.
“I don’t ever go out there trying to hurt anybody and I don’t ever go out there trying to end anybody’s career. To say something like that would just show the immaturity of the guy making that comment. It’s just football.”
Mawae has challenged his reputation as a dirty player on numerous occasions and pointed out that cut blocks are legal. Houston’s line coach, Alex Gibbs, is known for his coaching of the technique more than anyone in the league.
Mawae’s heading toward free agency and may not be back next season. But the incident is another on the growing list of issues the division rivals have with each other.