Cary Williams became the first Eagle since Lito Sheppard in 2005 to record a sack and an interception in the same game. (USA Today Images)
LANDOVER, Md. -- Once again, Cary Williams made headlines. This time it was actually for the way he played football.
Williams has been in the news for all the wrong reasons since signing with the Eagles as a big-money free agent this spring.
The sconces. The dance recital. Missing OTAs. Getting booted from joint practices with the Patriots for fighting Aaron Dobson. Fighting Steve Smith in the Carolina game.
Things reached a low ebb Thursday when Williams got into an ugly fight with teammate Riley Cooper at practice, and video of the altercation appeared to show Williams using the same racial slur that Cooper shouted at a security guard during a summer concert.
Williams declined to talk Thursday or Friday with reporters about the incident, which took several minutes to diffuse, but after an eye-opening debut with the Eagles Monday night, he apologized.
“I take full-on responsibility for what was done during the week, and I understand it probably presented a distraction,” Williams said. “But these guys in the locker room made sure it didn’t become a distraction.”
Four days after the fight, Williams became the first Eagle cornerback in eight years with an interception and a sack in the same game, leading the Eagles’ maligned secondary in a 33-27 win over the Redskins at FedEx Field (see Instant Replay).
And for a fan base forced to watch Dominique-Rodgers Cromartie and Nnamdi Asomugha the last two years, it was sure nice to see a cornerback play aggressive in coverage, stout in run defense and active when asked to blitz.
“To the fans, I love you,” Williams said. “I’m glad to be here, and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”
Williams, playing in his first game since helping the Ravens win the Super Bowl, went a long way Monday night toward becoming Cary Williams cornerback as opposed to Cary Williams troublemaker.
“I just want to play football, man,” he said. “That’s all I want to do. I want to help make my team a better team, I want to help make my defense a better defense. I just want to go out there and perform and do whatever I got to do for my team.”
Williams didn’t answer when asked if he used a racial slur during his fight with Cooper. He didn’t say yes, didn’t say no.
Asked about his relationship with his teammate, he said: “We’re all right. I just think it’s just practice man, two guys going out there and competing and playing physical and one guy doesn’t want to get beat and neither does the other guy.
“Two guys going out and competing. It was an unfortunate situation, but we’re past that, we had a great game tonight and we look forward to building off that.”
Bottom line is that Williams gave the Eagles the best cornerback play they’ve gotten since Asante Samuel was here.
"Cary Williams made a great play," Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III said of the cornerback's interception. "It was a decent throw, and Cary made a great play on it. It's not [wideout] Pierre [Garcon's] fault. I'm responsible for the ball, so even if he does make an amazing diving catch as a corner, it's still my ball, and still my interception, so he made a good play on that one."
Last week, Eagles head coach Chip Kelly mentioned Williams' playmaking in big games and competitive spirit when asked why he targeted the corner in free agency.
“Cary is a really, really good football player, and I think it showed tonight,” Kelly said after his NFL debut. “I talked to him specifically at halftime. I thought he was close -- and I’m not a big prognosticator -- but I said I think you’re going to get [an interception]. He comes up that first drive and gets one for us, and we score off of it. I thought Cary played really well.”
To get an idea of how rare Williams’ interception-sack game was, consider that the last Eagle cornerback with a sack and an interception in the same season was Dimitri Patterson in 2010.
The last to do it in the same game was Lito Sheppard against the 49ers in 2005.
“We got a great win for this organization,” Williams said. “It’s not about me. There were 10 other guys out there who helped me do my job, and those guys are terrific, and I can’t ask for better teammates.
“We went out there and did everything we’re supposed to do defensively. We got stops when we needed to get stops and collectively as a unit we played well.”