Williams had five tackles, two sacks, one fumble recovery and a 38-yard touchdown in the 20-3 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs. It was a performance many hope is a breakthrough for the 22-year-old, who had just 4.5 sacks as a rookie.
"I don't really feel like I'm under any pressure," Williams said. "If you look at it, the pressure applied from critics and media and whatever, I'm always behind anyway. Really, I was drafted No. 1 but I was never really whoever else you might compare me to. There are other people ahead of me that have the pressure. I'm chasing them."
On display during and after the game, Williams was more relaxed than he ever appeared last season. He was consistently threatening Kansas City quarterback Damon Huard in the pass rush and contributed in the run defense, helping hold Larry Johnson to just 10 carries for 43 yards.
"People have been waiting for him to do something: two sacks and a touchdown," defensive end N.D. Kalu said. "What else can you do as a defensive end? I was happy for him, and hopefully he has the monkey off his back and he can go out and enjoy it because I really don't think he was enjoying the sport like he should."
Cornerback Dunta Robinson said that "monkey" isn't going anywhere yet.
"The monkey is not off his back," said Robinson, who had an interception. "This is one game. The pressure is still on Mario. He's a monster, and we need to see this week in and week out from him because when he plays like that, that makes everything easier for the rest of us."
The coaching staff did see a sign earlier in the week that Williams might be headed for a good week. He put together his best practice as a pro on Thursday afternoon, and then followed it with his best game.
"This is a game about confidence," coach Gary Kubiak said. "When you're a player and a couple of good things go your way, you start to get a lot of confidence. I would expect him to feel really good coming out of this one moving forward."
Even though Williams' performance highlighted an overall outstanding day by the defense, he was quick to point out he didn't do anything alone. Williams realizes he gets all the attention, but it's not something he relishes. At least not yet.
"The difference today was the whole preparation during the week," Williams said. "Our mind set was there. When we came out, the whole defense came out together walking. That's how we approached the whole thing is that we're going to be together coming out here tonight, and that's what we did.
"Everything that happens, good or bad, it's always me, it seems like. But when you look at it, my soldiers, the line, the linebackers, the DB's -- the credit is on them. They played so well. Things just went my way. I'm just so thankful to be a part of it with them. That was the difference. The whole defense."
--S Jason Simmons tore his left patellar tendon in the second quarter.
--DE Mario Williams had the first touchdown of his career on a fumble recovery he ran back 38 yards for the touchdown.
--WR Andre Johnson caught a 77-yard touchdown reception for a career-long.
--CB Dunta Robinson picked off Damon Huard to capture the 10th interception of his career. It was his first pick since Nov. 19, 2006.
--DE N.D. Kalu fractured two bones in his right hand and returned to the game. Soon after he returned, he picked up his first sack of the game.