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Cadillac gets good mileage on Bills' defense

The Cadillac ran like a Mack truck Sunday, and the Buffalo Bills' defense was nothing more than a speed bump under his wheels.

Rookie running back Carnell "Cadillac" Williams rolled over, around and through the Bills' vaunted defense for 128 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries during the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 19-3 victory in Raymond James Stadium.

Williams, who got his nickname in high school because of his smooth running style, debuted last week by rushing for 148 yards at Minnesota. He ended that day with a game-clinching 71-yard touchdown.

Williams wasn't supposed to run on the Bills, who brought the NFL's top-ranked defense into the game. But he proved to be more than Buffalo could handle.

"He ran hard for one thing," Bills coach Mike Mularkey said. "He took some creases that were really gashes and just hit it up in there, a lot of times moving the line of scrimmage. Once he got into the secondary, he had the quicks to make some guys miss. He did it all to me. He saw lanes and hit them."

The Buccaneers took Williams with the fifth overall pick in this year's draft, and it's easy to see why. He's not a prototype big back at 6-foot and 217 pounds, but he is tough to bring down because he runs hard and with power.

On several occasions Sunday, Williams ran through tackles for extra yardage. His 3-yard touchdown was a vintage play in which he was hit at the 2 by defensive tackle Sam Adams and linebacker Jeff Posey but kept fighting until he found the goal line.

Williams flashed his great vision by finding cutback lanes against the Bills' pursuit and also displayed his speed on runs of 19, 23 and 31 yards.

"He broke our back today, especially on those long runs," Bills free safety Troy Vincent said. "He is a guy that you can't count on going down until you are sitting on top of him."

When Williams did go down, more often than not it was after running over a Bills defender. He showed some toughness as well, playing the second half with a sprained left foot.

"I was definitely in pain (in the second half)," Williams said. "In all my years that I've been playing this game of football you never feel good. Something is always going to hurt. So, therefore, usually (when there's a) time when something hurts, I'm going to actually play better."

As most great backs do, Williams looked stronger in the second half. Although the Bills deny heat was a factor, they seemed to take a little extra time picking themselves off the ground after each play in the latter stages of the game. The Bills also substituted a lot to keep the defensive line as fresh as they could.

The Bills insisted that their poor play was a bigger factor in Williams' performance than the heat.

"Obviously, I haven't looked at the film yet, but I think that you will probably find 10 guys doing one thing and I think there was one guy who was pressing too hard trying to make a play," linebacker Takeo Spikes said. "They found that one mistake by that one guy. . . . Hats off to them. They did what they had to do."

The Bills didn't, Adams said.

"It was very discouraging," he said. "That shouldn't happen, but it did. They just came out and outplayed us. They blocked us, they had gaping holes and we couldn't stop them. We got a thorough butt-whipping. That's as blatant as you can be."

The net result was that once Cadillac got revved up, there was no stopping him Sunday.

"He's a very good back," linebacker Angelo Crowell said. "We saw that on film, and it held true on the field today. We just didn't do enough to stop him."

e-mail: awilson@buffnews.com

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