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Williams Clears Key Hurdle

October 02, 2006|Peter Yoon | Times Staff Writer

The pressure on Mario Williams had been building since the Houston Texans made him the first pick of the 2006 NFL draft.

It became worse when the season started, because Reggie Bush, the player many thought would be Houston's pick, made an immediate impact for the New Orleans Saints. Meanwhile, the defensive lineman from North Carolina State played the first three games without recording a sack.

That changed Sunday when Williams corralled Dolphins quarterback Daunte Culpepper early in the fourth quarter of Houston's 17-15 victory over Miami.

Williams jumped for joy and hugged a teammate as the home crowd responded with a standing ovation.

"I cannot imagine the pressure that Mario was under," said Houston defensive end Anthony Weaver. "For him to get that sack, I just know that it was a huge relief to him and a huge burden off of his shoulders. Now he can just go out there and play."

Williams, who addressed the sack by saying "now you can't say I don't have a sack," made an even bigger play later when he tipped a pass on a two-point conversion attempt that would have tied the score with 1 minute 39 seconds to play.

Houston Coach Gary Kubiak, who won for the first time as the Texans coach, said Williams' performance Sunday was a giant step forward.

"He's a rookie, and we are asking him to do a lot," Kubiak said. "The quicker we get any consistency out of a rookie, then they are no longer rookies, and that's what we are after."

With a Heavy Heart

Playing a week after his older brother died in a car accident, Indianapolis receiver Reggie Wayne had four catches for 74 yards, including a key 15-yard reception that gave his team the ball on the one-yard line and set up the game-winning touchdown in a 31-28 victory over the New York Jets.

Wayne spent most of last week tending to family business in New Orleans, where his brother died. He returned to practice Thursday.

"It was a very, very difficult situation," Colts Coach Tony Dungy said. "I think the best time for Reggie has been when he's been on the field.... Today he went out and made three or four big catches for us, so I'm really glad to see that."

Ain't That a Kick?

Tennessee defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth was ejected in the third quarter Sunday after he kicked Dallas center Andre Gurode in the face.

Gurode's helmet came off during a play and Haynesworth, standing over him, used his right foot to kick Gurode, who required stitches on his forehead and above his left eye.

Afterward, Haynesworth said he was ashamed.

"What I did was disgusting," Haynesworth said. "It's something that should never happen. I mean I'm not a dirty player. I don't play dirty. I have respect for the game. What I feel like is I disgraced the game, disgraced my team and disgraced my last name."

Gurode said the two hadn't been talking trash or having any exchanges that led to Haynesworth's kicking him twice.

"In all my years of football, this has never happened to me. I've never been kicked in the face like this, and I've never seen anybody kick nobody else in the face," Gurode said.

Haynesworth said he would accept whatever punishment is handed down from the NFL or his team.

"If they suspend me, that's fine, because for what I did, whatever they give me, I deserve it," he said.

Gotta Be the Shoes

The Terrell Owens traveling circus heads to Philadelphia next Sunday, where Owens will face his former team, but he'll need a new pair of shoes.

After Sunday's 45-14 victory over Tennessee, Owens gave his shoes to Tennessee defensive back Adam "Pacman" Jones, who covered Owens for much of the game.

"He asked me for my shoes, and I gave them to him," Owens said.

Asked if they would make Jones faster, Owens suggested Jones would have to put some tissues in them.

"Those are some big shoes to fill," he said.

Catching Up

Marvin Harrison of the Colts had seven catches for 79 yards Sunday and moved past Andre Reed for fourth place on the all-time receptions list with 956.

Only Jerry Rice (1,549), Cris Carter (1,101) and Tim Brown (1,094) have more.

Harrison also tied Marshall Faulk's NFL record for most consecutive games with a reception to start a career, catching a pass in his 158th straight game.

Other Milestones

Peyton Manning threw his 250th touchdown pass, becoming the second-fastest in NFL history to reach that milestone. It took Manning 132 games to reach 250 touchdowns. Dan Marino holds the record, doing it in 128 games.... Kansas City tight end Tony Gonzalez moved past Ozzie Newsome for second all-time among NFL tight ends with 663 receptions. He also passed Jackie Smith for third all-time in career receiving yardage at his position.... Keyshawn Johnson of the Panthers became the 26th player in NFL history to go over 10,000 yards receiving.... The Saints' John Carney became the third kicker in NFL history with 400 career field goals.

Injury Report

Lions guard Frank Davis was taken off the field on a truck after he injured his neck on the opening kickoff of the second half against the Rams.... Jets running back Cedric Houston was carted from the field after injuring his left knee on a run in the third quarter against the Colts.... Seahawks safety Michael Boulware left after suffering a concussion in the second quarter against the Bears.... Falcons left guard Mike Wahle left in the second quarter because of an illness and did not return against the Cardinals.... Mike Brisiel, a rookie guard on the Texans practice squad, collapsed on the sideline during the first quarter against Miami. Team officials said Brisiel was ill but his condition was not serious.

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Associated Press contributed to this report.

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peter.yoon@latimes.com

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