P.J. Williams kept his head up. Then, he put his head down.
The New Orleans Saints’ cornerback could have suffered a crisis of confidence after his performance in Atlanta against the Falcons, when, in his first start of the season, Atlanta receiver Calvin Ridley routinely found room to operate in front of, and behind, Williams.
But New Orleans, which surrendered five touchdown passes and lost nickel back Patrick Robinson to a season-ending injury against Atlanta, didn’t look outward for solutions. Rather, Coach Sean Payton said the answers were inside the building.
Implicitly, that meant Williams was part of the solution and Sunday against the Giants, after Williams kept his confidence and head up following the Falcons game, he put his head down and went to work at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
Specifically, in the second quarter, Williams showed that his head was in the right place while the Saints were trailing 7-6 with 4:45 left in the first half.
Giants quarterback Eli Manning threw a short pass to running back Wayne Gallman Jr. in the right flat on first-and-10 from the Giants’ 49-yard line, and as Gallman was attempting to evade during a 4-yard gain, Williams hit him in the perfect place – for Williams.
Gallman had the ball cradled, but Williams’ helmet torpedoed the ball and knocked it loose. Cornerback Marshon Lattimore scooped it off the bounce and scooted 37 yards down the left sideline, to New York’s 11-yard line, before being pushed out of bounds by Manning.
Four plays later – including a 10-yard holding penalty – Wil Lutz kicked a 37-yard field goal, his third of the half, to give the Saints a 9-7 lead. It was a lead that the Saints never surrendered on their way to a 33-18 victory.
New Orleans went on to force and recover another fumble, its third forced turnover of the season and an on-cue answer to Payton’s desire for defensive players to make more plays on the ball.