Locked in a matchup with Dez Bryant, Cary Williams (shown tackling Bryant here) broke up a possible game-tying two-point conversion intended for the star wideout in the Eagles' 24-22 win. (USA Today Images)
ARLINGTON, Texas -- He knew it was coming.
Before the ball was even thrown, as he lined up across from one of the NFL’s most explosive and sure-handed wideouts, Williams knew the ball would come his way.
And he knew the fate of the game rested on his ability to make sure the ball never made it into Dez Bryant’s hands.
“I just basically knew what was coming, man,” Williams said, “and made the best play I possibly could and was able to get my hands on it.”
Before fellow cornerback Brandon Boykin rescued the Eagles’ 24-22 win over the Cowboys and helped send the Eagles to an NFC East title and back into the postseason with an interception on Dallas’ last possession (see story), Williams preserved it.
He broke up a two-point conversion from Kyle Orton to Bryant in the end zone after Bryant had caught a 32-yard touchdown with 3:57 to play that cut the Eagles’ lead to 24-22 (see Instant Replay). If Bryant had caught Orton’s conversion pass and tied the game, the outcome could have been completely different.
It could have been the Eagles watching the playoffs from home for the third straight year instead of Dallas, which lost out on the division title in the season finale for the third straight season.
Williams, who gave up a six-yard touchdown to Brandon Marshall the week before, anticipated the Cowboys' taking the same tack. He tightly stuck the 225-pound Pro Bowl receiver and lunged to bat away the low pass before Bryant could snag it.
“I knew it,” Williams said. “When you look at it, 82 (Jason Witten) and 88 (Bryant) were their top targets in the red zone. Once they came out split wide, I knew it was going to be a version of a back-shoulder fade. I was figuring it was gonna be something toward the pylon, but he didn’t run that play.
“They got me on it a couple of times when I played them in Baltimore so I kind of figured that that was coming. Last week I gave up one to Brandon Marshall, so I figured, ‘Hey, why wouldn’t they do it.’”
In general, Williams, one of the team’s most significant free-agent acquisitions, helped limit the damage done by Bryant, who caught eight passes for 99 yards. Bryant had caught eight for 110 in the first meeting.
The Eagles produced three turnovers and came up with big stops in the second half while the offense struggled. Williams, who won a Super Bowl with the Ravens, has made the postseason in each of his six seasons in the league.
He’ll never be considered one of the league’s best cover corners, but he plays with an edge and has a knack for coming up big in big games.
“It’s the will to win, man,” he said. “That’s all it is. We got the job done when it was needed.”