Fans and media may be, but
Williams led the Ravens with 10 tackles (a distinction a cornerback typically doesn’t want) Sunday night against the New England Patriots. According to the stats, he was the man in coverage for 10 Patriots completions totaling 121 yards.
While Williams said there are things to work on, he mostly gave the Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady credit for having such a big night. Brady and New England’s offense put up 396 net yards, including 319 through the air.
“He’s Tom Brady, man. He’s not ‘Joe Schmo,’” Williams said. “He’s a future Hall of Famer. He came out and did what he was supposed to do.”
Brady seemed to particularly target Williams during certain drives.
The Pro Bowl signal caller completed three passes in Williams’ direction in one first-quarter drive, including two sideline routes to Brandon Lloyd and one deep down the sideline to Julian Edelman for 19 yards, which was called back on offensive pass interference.
Brady went back at Williams on the Patriots’ first possession of the third quarter. It was all underneath short routes, first for 11 yards to Lloyd, then another for 11 to Wes Welker, then 10 and 9 to Lloyd. Brady threw the ball five times on the Patriots’ touchdown drive. Four of his passes were targeted at Williams.
The Ravens’ starting cornerback was particularly vulnerable on sideline routes where he was in one-on-one coverage. Nine of the 11 completions against Williams were for 10 yards or more as Lloyd especially took advantage of the back-shoulder fade.
Harbaugh said the back-shoulder fade is a “tough play” that has become more prevalent and effective for quarterbacks over the past four or five years. He said you have two options to defend against the route: either back off and allow completions in front of you or press and contend.
He said it basically becomes a guessing game as the cornerback feels for the reaction of the receiver as the ball is coming in. But he’s in essence playing it blind.
“You’ve got Tom Brady that puts it right where he wants to put it. They’ve got receivers that are in sync and they really are on the same page,” Harbaugh said.
“I think you have to chalk that up more than anything to execution on the part of the offense. That’s the National Football League, that’s why we love it.”
Williams, who reportedly turned down a contract extension this offseason, was frequently targeted in Week 1 by the Cincinnati Bengals as well. He made six tackles that night.
“We’ve got to work on every aspect of our game,” Williams said. “We’re far from perfect. We know what is expected of us, and we just need to come together as a unit and get the job done.”