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TOUGH TEXAN: MARIO WILLIAMS

TOUGH TEXAN: MARIO WILLIAMS

HALFTIME

At halftime, the Texans' press team distributes game stats and their gameday magazine, which highlights star players. In the book, Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback David Garrard said this about Williams: "The more and more he plays, the better he gets. You really have to account for him. A guy with his abilities, his range, his speed, his power, he's a force to be reckoned with."

In addition to the practices, the training and the studying, Williams, for his part, gives a humble explanation as to why he's such a force. "I look at it as a God-given ability," he says. "I was born with fast-twitch muscle fiber, and I'm fast for my size."

He's also hungry, both literally and figuratively. "I try to eat at least four hours before the game," he says. "There's always chicken, steak and pasta available to us, but I feel heavy if I eat that. I want to be fast and I want to be hungry -- it makes me play harder." Which means while he's sitting in that locker room at halftime, he's starving to get back on the field.

THIRD QUARTER

"He's a tremendous player and a great athlete," Jones says about battling Williams. "He has long arms that you have to deal with. When the ball's snapped, he wants some and I want some."

In the first series, Jones digs deep and twice stalls Williams just enough to keep him from recording the sack. The second series of downs is another stalemate. So is the third. Then, it happens.

1:55 LEFT IN THE THIRD QUARTER

Cincinnati's in the red zone, and the Texans have held them without a touchdown all game. The ball is snapped and big No. 90 fires off the line. He bull rushes Jones to the left, then, just as Jones readjusts for leverage, Williams shoves him with his left arm, swims over him with his right and tomahawks Fitzgerald from behind, chopping the ball out of his hand and creating a pile of bodies squirming for the pigskin. When it's clear the Texans have the ball, Williams pumps both fists in the air. After almost three quarters of football, he did it. He beat Jones. He beat the Bengals' line. He got to the quarterback and got his sack, with a forced fumble to boot. The crowd is going wild.

As he celebrates on the field, the JumboTron plays "Super Mario Williams," a video in which Williams is made to look like the Nintendo Mario. He runs along the screen, eats a mushroom, triples in size and then, instead of taking down turtles, he tackles Bengals.

"Last year, they had only the music," Williams says. "Now they have the whole video. I usually don't get to see it because I'm celebrating, but a friend just showed it to me. It's fun."

On the field, he celebrates his way to the sidelines with sack No. 25.5 -- only 172.5 to go until he catches Reggie White. M&F

>> You can find Mario's complete workout in the current issue of M&F, on newsstands December 22. RELATED STORIES:
REPS TO RICHES
CELEBRITY MUSCLE: HUGH JACKMAN
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