HOUSTON — Mario Williams used a swim move to brush aside Houston Texans right tackle Derek Newton like a fleck of lint off a lapel. Williams broke for quarterback Matt Schaub and sacked him with ease.
Williams popped off the grass and waved a scolding finger at Houston’s sideline.
Reliant Stadium erupted with vigorous boos, letting the Buffalo Bills pass-rusher know he’s the enemy after spending six seasons with the Texans.
“It was great,” Williams said of the boos. “The biggest thing for me is if you go out and make a play and get booed, I know I’m in your heart. That’s the most important thing.
“If it’d been quiet, then I would’ve felt something different. I know you’re thinking about me.”
Williams was satisfied with the play and how his surgically repaired left wrist felt in Sunday’s 21-9 defeat in Houston. But he added those were small consolations for losing the game.
Williams also was playing for the first time since having surgery during the bye week.
“I believe it’s healing now instead of just being stagnant,” Williams said. “That definitely boosted my morale.”
Williams finished with a game-high seven tackles, one for a 3-yard loss on a Justin Forsett run play. The most tackles he had before Sunday were four against the Cleveland Browns in Week Three.
The Bills still were in the game when Williams recorded his homecoming sack in the second quarter. The play provided a slight momentum shift. Newton false started on the next play to put the Texans in a third-and-18 situation before punting.
“He’s a tough guy to play against,” said Newton, a 2011 seventh-round draft choice making his eighth career start. “I had to be patient in the pass rush and adjust my stance a couple of times. Most of the day, I had to man up against him without really any help.”
Williams’ performance helped the Bills play much better defensively. The Bills entered Sunday having allowed an average of 45 points in their four losses and at least 35 points in each.
While Texans running back Arian Foster broke runs of 21, 19 and 14 yards, the Bills limited him to 4.6 yards a carry, 1.4 yards below their season average before Sunday.
“The biggest thing with us is we have to do it every play, every series because we can do it,” Williams said. “It’s just us being in position and not getting too nosy and doing your job.”
The Bills entered Houston ranked seventh in the NFL when it came to converting red-zone opportunities into touchdowns. They found the red zone three times Sunday and came away with two field goals and a miss.
“It was just a combination of their pass rush and us not being able to get where we wanted to go with the ball,” Bills coach Chan Gailey said.
“I tried to run it a couple of times, and we didn’t make any yards. So now you’re behind the sticks. We normally throw the ball in the end zone down there, but today we couldn’t get it down there.”
Not scoring touchdowns is bad enough. But here is a breakdown of how the Bills did on their chances from the Texans’ 20-yard line and closer: pass play to Fred Jackson for 1-yard loss, sack for 1-yard loss, Brad Smith run for no gain, 8-yard pass to Scott Chandler, Jackson run for 2 yards, false start, 4-yard pass to Jackson, 7-yard pass to Donald Jones, sack for 6-yard loss.
That’s eight plays and one 5-yard penalty for a net of 8 yards.
Defensive tackle Alex Carrington blocked a 46-yard Shayne Graham field goal attempt late in the second quarter.
Carrington is the first Bills player with multiple field-goal blocks since Bruce Smith had three in 1996.
Carrington has three in his career, having blocked a try last year against the New York Giants. He saved the day when he deflected what should have been Jay Feely’s chip-shot winner in Week Six, allowing the Bills to beat the Arizona Cardinals in overtime.
Buffalo deactivated kickoff specialist John Potter again. While the game was indoors and provided the perfect environment for booming touchbacks, Gailey scratched him anyway.
Whatever benefit Potter could’ve provided would be marginalized by Houston’s weak return unit. The dropoff from Potter to Rian Lindell was deemed negligible.
Houston’s top return man, Keshawn Martin, averaged 20.7 yards on three attempts and had a long of 28 yards. Lindell started the game with a squib that wasn’t returned.