It was easy to see how frustrated Cary Williams was just five nights ago.
Facing a pass-happy New England offense, Williams spent nearly the entire night being targeted by Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and spent much of the night searching for his opposing receiver.
He was frustrated. The talking heads called him out on his lackluster play.
On Thursday night, Williams quieted his critics.
With the Ravens leading by six points in the final minute of the third quarter, Cleveland was driving toward midfield, when Williams noticed Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden eyeing up an out route to the left sideline.
Williams saw the play developing. He jumped the route and stuck his hands out in front of the intended receiver. Sixty seconds later, Williams was in the end zone, celebrating his first career interception. It was a play that put the Ravens ahead by two scores, and proved to be the key touchdown in the Ravens’ 23-16 win over the Browns.
“It was weird because when I had it in my hands, it felt like I didn’t have it because it was so wet,” Williams said. “But once I had it I looked forward and say daylight. I just ran it in.”
On a rain-soaked night in Baltimore, it was a key defensive play - a signature in Ravens folklore - that turned the tide for the home team. While the Ravens’ offense put up some impressive numbers, including 356 yards from Joe Flacco and 131 yards from Anquan Boldin, the production didn’t always translate to the scoreboard. In the end, however, it didn’t matter.
“Sometimes you’re going to win and you’re going to look good. Other times you’re going to win and you’re not going to look so good,” coach John Harbaugh said. “But you find a way to win, and that’s what we did tonight.”
Thursday night’s game was a return to normalcy, both for the Ravens and the NFL itself. With the lockout between the league and its officials resolved, the “regular referees” returned to action Thursday night, which made for a comfortable and smoother pace. That, combined with the Ravens’ aggressive defensive approach which tallied two takeaways and a defensive score, made the victory feel like an old fashioned Baltimore football game.
“Those [refs] were pros,” Harbaugh said. “I didn’t agree on every call out there tonight, but those guys were excellent and did a great job.”
With the win, the Ravens move to 3-1 at the quarter pole, while the Browns remain winless at 0-4. For Williams and Co., 3-1 is nice, but the season still has a long way to go.
“We’re 3-1 and we won the first quarter of the season but it’s just the first quarter,” Williams said. “We’ve still got to go out and try and win the next three quarters.”