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P.J. Williams sack, forced fumble exemplified pressure applied by New Orleans Saints defense | Turning Point of the Game for NFL Week 17

Fumble recovery led to a Saints field goal


There isn't much that the New Orleans Saints haven't asked defensive back P.J. Williams to do on defense this season. Eagerly, and effectively, he has obliged, and that again was the case on Sunday in an 18-10 victory over Carolina in the Caesars Superdome.

Williams had three quarterback hits and a sack this season entering Sunday's game. Against the Panthers, he added to those totals – and more – on a play that didn't help produce a lead-taking score for the Saints, but highlighted the force with which New Orleans would play on defense against Carolina.

With the Panthers leading 10-3 in the second quarter, they began a drive at their 20-yard line after forcing a three-and-out from New Orleans on the Saints' preceding possession. Carolina gained just one yard on two plays – a Chuba Hubbard run and an incomplete pass – before facing third-and-9 with 10:14 left in the quarter.

Quarterback Sam Darnold took the shotgun snap, and the Saints loosed their defense in the obvious passing situation. Williams, starting at free safety for Marcus Williams (health and safety protocols), poured in untouched from the right side – Darnold's blind side – and crushed the quarterback from behind, jarring the ball loose.

While Williams sprang to his feet and made his way to the end zone to bask in the celebration of the 9-yard sack, defensive end Marcus Davenport fell on the ball at the Panthers' 14-yard line.

New Orleans didn't capitalize with a touchdown – Brett Maher kicked a 27-yard field goal to pull the Saints to within 10-6 – but the Panthers spent the rest of the game on offense hounded by the Saints' defense, which finished with seven sacks and eight quarterback hits.

Williams was injured on the first play of Carolina's next drive, but he already had supplied the boost New Orleans needed.

The New Orleans Saints take on the Carolina Panthers at the Caesars Superdome in Week 17 of the 2022 NFL season.

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