exonerate (verb): to clear or absolve from blame
Related words: acquit, vindicate, purge
The above definition is pertinent and now a part of the discussion regarding the play of Baltimore Ravens cornerback Cary Williams. Prior to the Ravens 23-16 victory over the Cleveland Browns last night, Williams has been the scorn of a lot of Ravens fans for his play so far this season. Williams has been the favorite target for opposing quarterbacks, as the guys he's covered have had career days going up against him.
Williams failings was especially evident in the Ravens win over the New England Patriots last week as it appeared Tom Brady's game-plan was simply to throw to the guy that Cary Williams was covering. Talk over the past week was to replace him with Jimmy Smith or even push him further down the depth chart.
Earlier this off-season, Williams reportedly turned down a contract extension offer from the Ravens on a three-year $15 million deal, thinking he could hold out for more or improve that offer on the free agent market. His play the first three games had people laughing at what appeared to be a greedy, epic fail of a decision.
However, that might have all change in a few second span of the third quarter last night. Williams stepped in from of a Brandon Weeden sideline throw and took the interception 63 yards to the house for the touchdown that eventually proved to be the difference in the game.
Surprisingly, that was Williams first interception in his five year NFL career and he couldn't have picked a better time and place to get it. If you look at Cary's stats, you see that he might seem to be a tackling machine but remember, the overwhelming majority of his tackles have came after the guy he was covering caught the ball in front of him. Williams is fourth on the Ravens in tackles, behind the team leader, of course, Ray Lewis.
Does this still mean that Williams remains a liability in pass defense or will opposing quarterbacks think twice if they continue to target him as the weak link in the secondary? With Lardarius Webb on the other side and Jimmy Smith improving every game, Cary will continue to get his chances. Odds are that he will continue to get burned and rack up the resulting tackles. However, odds also are that he will now be confident to play tighter in hopes to adding to that lonely number of career interceptions.