Cadillac takes Tampa Bay on victory spin in overtime
For better or worse, the Bucs were going to ride their Cadillac in overtime. Capping his historic comeback from two torn patellar tendons, Cadillac Williams darted and willed Tampa Bay to a 20-17 comeback victory in overtime Sunday.
In posting his first 100-yard game since 2006, Williams gouged the Saints for 129 yards in 24 carries, making the same decisive, sharp cuts that helped him win NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors in 2005.
"After the injuries, I have to admit I questioned myself whether I would have the same burst of speed, but I feel I'm definitely back," said Williams, who registered the most rushing yards by a Tampa Bay back since he gained 150 yards against Atlanta during that wondrous rookie season. "You don't see no hiccup in my game."
Instead of wilting, Williams grew stronger in the late stages. After gaining 31 yards on four fourth-quarter carries, Williams almost single-handedly drove the Bucs from their own 23 to the New Orleans 29 on the first possession of overtime, setting up Connor Barth's 47-yard field goal.
Williams carried nine times for 40 yards in the march, providing all the offense except for an 8-yard scramble by rookie quarterback Josh Freeman on third-and-5 from midfield. "You can't say enough about Cadillac - there's nothing wrong with those knees," said Bucs left tackle Donald Penn. "In OT, we wanted to keep running behind Caddy. We knew he'd get the job done."
The Williams saga has served as inspiration for Bucs players all season, on both sides of the ball. "The guy finds his lanes and he runs hard ... real hard," said veteran cornerback Ronde Barber. "If we commit to giving Cadillac Williams the football, we'll win a lot of football games around here."
With 781 yards on the ground heading into Sunday's season finale against the Falcons, Williams would have to match James Wilder's single-game franchise mark to reach the 1,000-yard plateau. But this has already been a remarkable season for Tampa Bay's symbol of resilience.
"We had been hearing a lot of criticism that we couldn't run the football when we needed to," Williams said. "I give full credit to our offensive line because when it came to overtime, we just kept handing it off, handing it off. And guess what? It all worked out at the end."
Ira Kaufman, The Tampa Tribune 29 December 2009