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Super Mario grabs spotlight again


It's too bad that Mario Williams doesn't get to play in primetime – and in his Battle Red Texans uniform – every week.

Williams is no slouch in other games. But in primetime, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2006 draft is, well, super.

"Super Mario" recorded a season-high three sacks and a forced fumble in the Texans' Monday Night Football debut. He had six tackles, five unassisted.

Williams now has 6.5 sacks in two career primetime games, both of which the Texans played in their Battle Red uniforms. He had a career-high 3.5 sacks last year on Thursday night television against the Denver Broncos.

"He shows up when we put the red on in primetime," linebacker DeMeco Ryans said. "He shows up big-time. Maybe we need to wear it a little more."

Williams has 11 sacks this season, which leads all AFC defensive ends and represents 55 percent of the Texans' team sack total. He has four multi-sack games this year and eight in his career.

His Monday night performance keyed a second consecutive strong effort from the Texans' defense, which appears to have turned a corner along with last week's 16-6 victory over the Cleveland Browns.

"Any time Mario gets three sacks, it makes my job on the back end a lot easier," cornerback Dunta Robinson said. "I'm probably the guy that's always telling him, 'Come on, Mario, let's go,' because I need it. I need Mario to make plays.

{QUOTE}"If Mario can continue this, there's no stopping him or us. He's the key for us to be successful on defense."

Williams' forced fumble in the fourth quarter was recovered by defensive tackle Jeff Zgonina at the Jacksonville 21. The turnover led to a touchdown that made the score 23-3, effectively icing the win for the Texans with 4:35 remaining.

In the second quarter, Williams forced a Jaguars punt by dropping Garrard for an eight-yard loss on third-and-five from the Jacksonville 47. His second sack came in the third quarter near midfield.

"He played very well," guard Chester Pitts said. "If I was going against a person and they did that against me, I'd be looking for the nearest bridge to jump off of. It was a great thing for him, and rough on the offensive lineman that was supposed to be blocking him."

Williams said after the game that he was motivated by more than just a chance to play on the national stage. ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski was critical of Williams in an interview with the *Houston Chronicle *last week, calling him very good but not dominant and branding him as a bull-rusher.

"You know, he said I didn't have a first step," Williams said. "It's just one of those things where I don't know what he's going to say now. It's just go out and play ball. I'm always motivated from the haters, so I appreciate it."

Of course, Jaworksi's comments were nothing compared to the widespread criticism of Williams when the Texans drafted him in 2006 instead of Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush or hometown hero Vince Young.

That controversy now seems like a distant memory. Two games with three-plus sacks in as many appearances in the national spotlight will go a long way in changing public opinion.

"It was special," Texans owner Bob McNair said. "I was really pleased for Mario. He got to perform on a stage there, and … people now can see what kind of ball player he really is. A lot of the people who haven't seen him play weren't aware of it, so it was great for him. It was great for our team."

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