Cadillac Finally Breaks Out Of Slump
Maybe it was the shoes. Earlier in the week, Cadillac Williams joked about his recent slump and how the Pro Football Hall of Fame might consider sending back his shoes it put on display after the rookie running back made NFL history. After rushing for 116 yards and one touchdown against Atlanta on Sunday, Williams changed his mind. "Nah, they can keep them," he said.

Williams set the bar high when he reeled off three consecutive 100-yard rushing games to open the season, becoming the first rookie in NFL history to accomplish the feat. But after sustaining a foot injury, Williams slipped into a frustrating slump. "It feels great to get over that hump," Williams said.

He hurdled the hump by setting the tone on the Bucs' first play of the game when he ripped off a 30-yard run. "It gave our whole offense confidence that we would be able to run the ball," quarterback Chris Simms said.

The Bucs' running game benefited from Williams' resurgence. His effort helped the Bucs pick up 140 yards on the ground, the first time in three games Tampa Bay broke the 100-yard rushing mark. Williams credited the physicality of the offensive line. "There were so many holes and so much running room, it was just like I was picking and choosing my way," he said. "I mean, they manhandled them up front."

Williams scored his third touchdown of the season on a 9-yard rush to tie the game with two minutes remaining. He helped set up the TD run with an 8-yard reception on third-and-6. Another 8-yard run on the Bucs' final drive set up Matt Bryant's game-winning 45-yard field goal. "I was hoping Coach [Jon Gruden] would go to me on all three downs," Williams said of the game-winning drive. "I was going to tell him, but I was like, 'He's the coach, I'm just going to sit back.' "

Though he had grown frustrated with his production the past several games, Williams was confident he would bounce back. So were his teammates. "He probably hit a wall. He hit the rookie wall," right tackle Kenyatta Walker said. "You can sit there and tell yourself it ain't going to happen to me, but it does. So this was a confidence game for him."

Now the challenge for the offensive line and for Williams is to build on it. "I have to continue to do it week in and week out," Williams said. "I can't do it three games and then don't play good three or four games. I can't do that. There were so many holes and so much running room, it was just like I was picking and choosing my way. I mean, they manhandled them up front."

Katherine Smith, The Tampa Tribune 21 November 2005