No worries for Williams

Two weeks ago, fingers were pointing at Tyrone Williams as the weak link in the Packer secondary which fell victim to the Tennessee Titans and Steve McNair. This week, the accusations turned into accolades as Williams turned in the play of the game in a big win over Cleveland. Such is the life of an NFL defensive back.

"Tyrone just keeps getting better and better," Packer Head Coach/GM Mike Sherman said about the sixth-year veteran from Nebraska. ‘He's tackling better. He's covering well. He has stepped up his whole game."

Williams showed off his whole game against the Browns. He had two interceptions and made five tackles, shaking off any lingering effects from a poor game he had Dec. 16 in a 26-20 loss to the Tennessee Titans. In that game he let a Steve McNair pass sail through his arms and into the hands of wide receiver Derrick Mason for a 35-yard touchdown pass. Williams' name was called painfully often as McNair shied away from Mike McKenzie and instead picked on Williams.

But Williams' memory is blissfully short - a job requirement for NFL cornerbacks.

"I think I have played well the last month," he said. "Sure I had the dropped interception, and I wish I could have that back. But I didn't get discouraged. I always will try and attack the ball."

To say that Williams' attitude paid off with a Packer playoff berth may not be overstating the case. Williams intercepted a pass from Cleveland Browns quarterback Tim Couch and returned it 69 yards for a touchdown to break open a close game and help the Packers beat the Browns in the snow at Lambeau last weekend, securing their first playoff berth since 1998.

"An interception that is returned for a touchdown changes the whole complexion of the game," Sharper said. "That's what Tyrone did. That was definitely the play of the game."

He certainly jumped all over the pass Couch threw with time running out in the first half. The Browns trailed 16-7 and drove the Packers 31 with 45 seconds left in the half. On first-and-10, Couch dropped back, surveyed his receivers, and decided to fling a long, sideways pass to running back Jamel White along the left sideline.

It was a fatal mistake.

Williams read Couch, looked at White, and knew in an instant where the ball was going. "He made a long, risky throw, and I was gone before he even let go of the ball," Williams said. "The toughest part was making the catch. A lot of times you drop those. But after I made the catch. The rest was just a sprint."

Williams stepped in front of White, snared the pass and streaked down the sideline for a touchdown. The score gave the Packers a 23-7 lead at halftime, and deflated the Browns.

"You try to make plays, you try to stay aggressive," said Browns head coach Butch Davis. "Instead of the interceptions, we needed some completions."

Couch completed 22 of 33 passes for 203 yards, but threw three interceptions, lost a fumble, and was sacked four times. "We tried to move the ball - we wanted to overcome our mistakes," Couch said. "I had a couple bad passes, but I'm trying to score everytime we move the ball."

Couch was trying to do that near the end of the third quarter when he fired deep to tight end O.J. Santiago. The ball sailed, and Williams picked it off at the Green Bay 16. "I really didn't even see him throw the pass," Williams said. "I was watching my man, staying in my zone. Then I saw the ball and I attacked it."

Williams returned the interception six yards, thanks to a bone-crunching block from fellow cornerback Mike McKenzie. The Packers then drove 78 yards in five plays, scored a touchdown for a 30-7 lead, and clinched a playoff spot.

"The past couple years I would have to go home and other teams were still playing, and that got under my skin," said Williams, who now leads the team with five interceptions. "But we're back in the playoffs, back where we belong."


Packer Report Top Stories