When Ty'Son Williams scored a highlight-reel 20-yard rushing touchdown in Saturday night's preseason win in Carolina, he stayed belly down on the turf with his hands on his head as teammates circled to celebrate him.
It was one of those "wow" moments, where the ramifications of what he had done seemed to be surging into his head. Did that run catapult Williams onto the Ravens' 53-man roster?
That remains to be seen, but the second-year undrafted running back has made a strong case. Head Coach John Harbaugh said it's going to be a "tough decision" on who gets the Ravens' third running back spot between Williams and Justice Hill.
"Every position has to be earned, and that's one that has to be earned," Harbaugh said.
Williams' touchdown run was the play of the game. A Panthers linebacker burst into the backfield at the start of the play, but Williams juked to the left to make him miss, then exploded through a hole.
Thanks to a pair of good blocks, Williams immediately locked eyes on the safety and juked right to make him miss. Suddenly, Williams had a cornerback and linebacker diving and holding onto his ankles. He hopped through their grip, kept his balance with one arm down, then dove for the end zone.
"That was one of the best runs. That was just a great football run, you know?" Harbaugh said. "To get hit three or four times, break tackles, keep his feet when he's going down, put the arm in the ground … you know, the old arm in the ground, hold onto the ball, keep the ball up high and tight and then launch himself into the end zone. That's an old school run right there."
Williams stood out in the Ravens' first preseason game when he ran a team-high 10 times for 41 yards, including an 18-yard gallop. On Saturday night, he had 10 carries for 47 yards.
"He's done a great job," Harbaugh said. "We saw glimpses of it last year in practices, as you guys remember, and he's done it in the preseason practices and the game."
The touchdown run may have felt especially good for Williams considering it came in Carolina. Williams grew up in Sumter, S.C. and first played his college ball at North Carolina. After one year, he transferred to South Carolina, where he played two seasons in a reserve role. Then Williams transferred again, this time across the country to BYU in Utah for his senior year.
He got off to a strong start with 264 yards and three touchdowns in his first four games before tearing his ACL. He was averaging 5.4 yards per carry that year before the season-ending injury.
The Ravens signed Williams as an undrafted rookie and he spent almost his entire season on the practice squad. He was elevated to the active roster for one game, the short-handed COVID-19 game in Pittsburgh.
Williams came back this summer seemingly with an outside shot at making the roster with J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards and Hill all returning. But day-by-day, Williams has stood out.
"He's a great back," linebacker Malik Harrison said. "He does the same thing in practice, so it's nothing new; I'm not shocked. He's a great guy on and off the field."
Hill, a fourth-round pick from 2019, has been hampered by an ankle injury the past week, which held him out of the two joint practices and game in Carolina. Harbaugh said Hill, who ran five times for eight yards in the preseason opener, has been practicing very well and unfortunately hasn't been able to show as much in the games.
"Everybody has to prove themselves every year," Harbaugh said. "Even the most celebrated player still has a lot to prove to varying degrees."
Williams gave a shoutout to the offensive line for the Ravens' 167 rushing yards against Carolina, saying they were "making it easy for us." He also gave love to Saginaw Valley State undrafted running back Nate McCrary, who had a team-high 15 carries for 64 yards and a 2-yard touchdown.
But as the team decides on its 53-man roster following next Saturday's final preseason game, it's going to have a tough time not pointing to Williams' name.
"It feels great just to go back out there and make plays," Williams said. "Honestly, I just continue to stack, continue to get better and [working] on the things that I need to improve on, and I'll be good."