If that's not the face of intimidation, then I'm not so sure what is.
Brian Cushing, the leader of Houston's fourth-ranked defense in 2011, knows a thing or two about being bloodied on the football field. Back on November 6, against the Cleveland Browns, Cushing found himself in the middle of a post-play tussle with a Browns lineman. Right after being pushed from behind by the player while walking away, Cushing took off his helmet as he turned around to face the said Brown player, guard Shawn Lauvao. Unfortunately for Cushing, Lauvao head-butted him (looked unintentional as Lauvao simply got in Cushing's face).
The picture above was the end result: An angry, bloody Cushing. Houston went on to easily win the game, 30-12, to improve to 6-3 on their way to a franchise-best 10-6 season, a division title and the first playoff appearance in Texans' history.
Despite losing All Pro defensive end/outside linebacker Mario Williams, who signed elsewhere (Buffalo) this offseason, the Cushing-led Texans will be on the prowl once again in 2012. I expect even bigger things as this defense continues to mature and add depth.
A couple of days ago I expressed how confident I am in the Carolina Panthers as the favorites in the NFC South, and now I am expressing how much confidence I have in Houston capturing a second consecutive AFC South division title.
I do not own the above image. No copyright infringement intended.