Darious Williams’ interception crowns big day for Rams’ defense against Giants
The New York Giants’ offense smelled blood, trailing Los Angeles 17-9, but marched into striking distance to the 14-yard line. With 59 seconds left, quarterback Daniel Jones took the snap, then stepped up through a hole in the middle of the pocket. He launched a pass to wide receiver Damion Ratley, who had his arms out around the five-yard line.
But Williams recognized the concept and slung his body in front of Ratley, snagging the interception near the sideline. He and teammates celebrated as the turnover sealed the Rams’ 17-9 victory and 3-1 record.
“The release, the stem, everything, I knew that was kind of his play,” Williams said. “At the end of the day, luckily I just made a play on it.”
The Rams struggled to jumpstart their offense until the fourth quarter, when a TD pass from Jared Goff to Cooper Kupp secured a 17-9 win over the Giants.
The takeaway capped a strong collective defensive performance for the Rams. A lackluster showing by the usually-efficient unit on offense forced the defense to step up. And it responded, not allowing the Giants to score a touchdown and generating disruptive pressure. They finished with five sacks and eight quarterback hits.
Jones left with an almost spotless white-and-red jersey. But had SoFi Stadium’s artificial turf been natural grass, his uniform would have been splattered green and brown.
“I thought there was a lot of different guys that created a lot of disruption in the backfield today,” coach Sean McVay said. “It’s always a collaborative effort.”
Six defenders contributed to a sack. McVay credited defensive coordinator Brandon Staley for calling a good game, varying the play types with four-man rushes and blitzes.
Defensive tackle Aaron Donald and outside linebacker Samson Ebukam set the tone early, both dragging Jones to the ground on the second play. Jones finished with 45 rushing yards, most coming from scrambles where either the Rams defense lost containment or he escaped from danger after the pocket collapsed.
“A couple times we had him bottled up and missed sacks and he was able to step up and run,” Donald said. “It’s going to happen.”
The Rams offense seemed sluggish for most of the afternoon, but the defense held strong. The Giants entered the red zone four times, but only produced three field goals.
“Guys were just stepping up and making plays,” Donald said. “We have 11 guys on the field that, at any time, one of these guys can make a big play and a game-changing play. We tend to continue to close out games and make big plays when we need it.”
On Sunday, that guy was Williams — again. In Philadelphia, Williams intercepted a pass from Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz on what could have been a go-ahead touchdown during the second game of the season.
The 2018 undrafted free agent from Alabama-Birmingham showed again he could perform in clutch moments. He also showed resiliency after last week, when referees called him for a debatable pass inference penalty on Buffalo Bills wide receiver Gabriel Davis, a play that set up the game-winning touchdown and the Rams’ only loss.
Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey and Giants receiver Golden Tate competed aggressively on the field and scuffled after the game, having to be pulled apart.
Donald said Williams “has the potential to be a really good player in this league,” and Williams said that’s his goal. The Rams’ scheme and personnel are complements, he said. Offenses shy away from throwing toward star cornerback Jalen Ramsey, and the defensive front creates uncomfortable scenarios for quarterbacks to operate in.
He feels it’s a result of his preparation too. At practices, he said he refines his technique for when the ball is in the air, and makes sure to catch passes after sessions to improve his hands. But sometimes, divine intervention puts him at the right place at the right time as well.
“That’s just God blessing me,” Williams said. “ ... I just try to be a red dot, somebody that’s dangerous on the field, and I want every quarterback, everyone that targets me to know it’s a 50-50 chance of getting a pick. I think it’s really the positions I’m in and just capitalizing on them.”
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