Ravens reserve wide receiver LaQuan Williams' spirit brought him to this day, reaching football's ultimate game in just his second NFL season.
Unfortunately for Williams, the former University of Maryland and Poly High School standout won't actually be playing against the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII at New Orleans' Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Williams was placed on injured reserve with a hamstring injury suffered in the regular-season finale against the Cincinnati Bengals. As a result, Williams' season is over.
When the Ravens placed Williams on injured reserve, it created a roster spot for inside linebacker Ray Lewis to return from the injured reserve-designated to return list.
Now, the athletic 6-foot, 195-pounder has changed roles from special-teams contributor to rooting on his teammates against the 49ers.
"I'm just enjoying the ride, man," Williams said. "It's an unbelievable feeling for my team to make it this far. I'm just going to be cheering and giving my moral support. Of course, you want to be out there playing."
Accustomed to playing regularly in kick coverage, Williams didn't catch a pass this season after registering four receptions for 46 yards as a rookie when he was one of two undrafted free agents to make the 53-man opening-day roster along with outside linebacker Michael McAdoo.
This season, Williams finished with a career-high five special-teams tackles..
Williams didn't play in the first four games as a healthy scratch. He's missed the past four games, including three playoff victories, because of a leg injury that has since healed enough that he figures he could be back on the field by now.
Not that Williams is complaining.
Williams, a Baltimore native, has played every stage of his football career in the state of Maryland: in high school in Baltimore, collegiately in College Park and in the NFL.
So, dealing with the adversity of not playing in the Super Bowl despite being recovered from his leg injury isn't going to dampen his excitement about his team reaching the big game.
"I could probably play if I had to," Williams said. "It's all good, though."
His son shrugged off any letdown, said Lassell Williams, a Poly grad who lives in northeast Baltimore.
"Yes, it's bittersweet, but LaQuan understands the business of the game," the father said. "This team will have more opportunities to go (to the Super Bowl); there's nothing but positivity for the future.
"I sent LaQuan a text (Tuesday) morning and told him to bask in the moment because he played a part in this season. This is God's plan for him, and he has to wait his turn. I told him to be safe, smart and stay ready to be ready."
Williams is proud of the receiving corps, which includes fellow former Maryland wide receiver Torrey Smith catching 49 passes for 855 yards and eight touchdowns. In the playoffs, Smith has tacked on nine more receptions for 198 yards and two touchdowns.
"Words can't explain how proud I am of Torrey, of everybody," Williams said. "As receivers, we put it on us and said it would be up to us. And I feel like we're doing it."
Baltimore Sun reporter Mike Klingaman contributed to this article.
twitter.com/RavensInsiderCopyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times