Ravens cornerback Cary Williams plays the game with an edge, readily acknowledging he never loses the proverbial chip on his shoulder.
A former Tennessee Titans seventh-round draft pick from Washburn, Williams says he thrives on any perceived slight or disrespect.
A week ago, Williams grew so tired of hearing questions about Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning that he politely but firmly cut off anyone broaching the topic prior to the Ravens' 38-35 double-overtime victory.
Williams has a long memory for a cornerback, without dwelling too much on past encounters other than trying to learn from them or garnering motivation whenever he comes up short.
All of those personal attributes should come into play for Williams in Sunday night's AFC championship game rematch against the New England Patriots.
During a 31-30 win over the Patriots in September at M&T Bank Stadium, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady repeatedly went after Williams. He was targeted a game-high 13 times, allowing nine catches with no touchdowns.
Wide receiver Brandon Lloyd was the primary target for Brady, and he caught nine passes for 108 yards, including a 32-yard reception on Williams early in the game.
"It’s a ridiculous question, so I can see why he’d be frustrated by it," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said when asked Friday if Williams has improved since that game. "Great quarterbacks like Tom Brady go after the defense. They go after whatever they feel like the route calls for, what the coverage calls for."
Williams, who finished the regular season with a career-high four interceptions and recorded an interception of rookie quarterback Andrew Luck during the Ravens' AFC wild-card win over the Indianapolis Colts, has a tendency to get even after a rough game.
Dusted on a double-move pattern by Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker for a 51-yard touchdown during the regular season, Williams allowed just six catches for 58 yards and no touchdowns in the Ravens' playoff victory over the Broncos.
Meanwhile, cornerback Corey Graham intercepted Manning twice and returned one for a touchdown while shadowing slot receiver Brandon Stokley.
Graham is expected to match up with Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker this game. And that leaves Williams primed for another shot at Lloyd, who caught 74 passes for 911 yards and four touchdowns during the regular season.
As for Brady, he's bracing for another stiff challenge against the Ravens.
"I think Baltimore has a great football team," he said. "They have had a great team for a long time. They are very good on defense, they are very good on offense, and they have always had good special teams. We’ve just had a lot of great games against them and I think this one will be another great game."
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