Williams the latest great back

"It seems like he's more comfortable (in Miami). He seems like he's running 10 times faster than the defense. You've got to beat the best to be the best." -- Raiders weakside linebacker Eric Barton


The Oakland Raiders (9-4) seemingly endless gauntlet of facing top-flight running backs continues in Miami (8-5) Sunday by facing Ricky Williams.

            Remember when former New Orleans Saints' coach Mike Ditka bet the mortgage on Williams and gave up the entire 1999 NFL draft for the right to select Williams? Turns out – Ditka was right but Williams, whom the Dolphins acquired via trade from New Orleans is now starring as a Miami Dolphin after three tumultuous seasons in ‘The Big Easy.'

            Williams, who was a Heisman Trophy winner at Texas in 1998, is enjoying a superb season in Miami. He has rushed for 1,500 yards on 310 carries and 14 touchdowns. Williams has also caught 37 passes for 301 yards and a TD.

The last two weeks, however, Williams has been the hammer and opposing defenses have been the nail.

He has amassed back-to-back 200-plus yard rushing games. Williams has carried 58 times for 444 yards and four touchdowns. The Raiders used a gap control defense and held San Diego running back LaDainian Tomlinson to 57 yards on 18 attempts in a 27-7 win over the Chargers Sunday. Oakland will need a similar effort Sunday against Williams.

"We'll need the same approach (against Williams)," Oakland middle linebacker Napoleon Harris said. "We've got to get 11 hats to the ball."

Much like the Chargers lean on Tomlinson to control the clock, Miami will count on Williams to do the same.

"It seems like he's more comfortable (in Miami)," Raiders weakside linebacker Eric Barton said. "He seems like he's running 10 times faster than the defense. You've got to beat the best to be the best."

            Williams' effect is two-fold in that he helps the Dolphins control the ball on offense, which then allows the defense to stay rested. The Raiders enter the contest No. 3 in the NFL against the run while Miami boasts the third-best rushing attack in the NFL. This matchup will go a long way toward deciding the outcome of this contest. In its four losses, Oakland yielded an average of 153.8 yards rushing compared to 65.8 in its nine victories.

            "He does everything," Raiders defensive end Trace Armstrong said. "He's got speed, power and good vision."


Vince D'Adamo can be reached at vdad7@yahoo.com

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