Marcus Williams @MarcusWilliams
I appreciate my friends, real fans, family, and team for everything they have done for me this season all of the support is highly appreciated!No the season didn’t end as planned but one thing for sure I won’t let one play define the type of MAN or PLAYER that I am or will be!💯
"You can't let it beat you down," Williams told reporters in the locker room on Sunday, per Mike Triplett of ESPN.com. "I'm gonna take it upon myself to do all that I can to never let that happen again. And, I mean, if it happens again, then I shouldn't be playing. But I'm gonna take it upon myself to do all that I can to make sure nothing like this happens again to me."
On the play in question, the Vikings were facing a 3rd-and-10 from their own 39-yard-line with just 10 seconds on the clock. At that point in the game, they were simply trying to advance the ball down the field and get out of bounds to set up a long field-goal attempt.
But Case Keenum threw to an open Diggs around the 35-yard line. Williams, rather than contesting the ball or timing his tackle correctly, lowered his head and shoulder and launched toward Diggs' legs. He not only completely missed him, but he also knocked over another Saints defender in the process.
From there, Diggs turned upfield and had no one in his vicinity, racing for a shocking, game-winning touchdown as time expired.
Williams—who, to his credit, spoke to the media after the play, at times through tears—talked about the now-infamous play, per Triplett:
"The ball was in the air. I didn't go attack it. And he came down and made a great play, and that's just on me. I just gotta be that guy and go up and get the ball. As a safety back there, you gotta be the eraser. And that was my job. ... I feel like I was a little early [on my launch toward Diggs]. But at that point, I just gotta make the tackle when he comes down. ... There's only 10 seconds left. I knew the situation. You gotta make sure you make the play. ... If the play happened different, I would just go attack the ball and make that play."
It was a horrible way to end an excellent season for the rookie second-round pick out of Utah. He started 17 games for the Saints, registering 73 tackles and four interceptions during the regular season. Pro Football Focus ranked him him as the No. 12 safety in the NFL this past season, giving him an 86.8 grade.
Williams' teammate and fellow rookie, cornerback Marshon Lattimore, had his back:
Marshon Lattimore @shonrp2
Yea it may hurt but one thing I know for sure my dawg play his heart out every game for the team man. He give 100% effort no matter if it's practice or the game. Can't deny his passion for the game! He gained a brother for sure. We'll be back! @babymagik32 https://t.co/EPNOXwpI8V
So did his head coach.
"Look, he jumped and went for the tackle," Sean Payton told reporters, per Triplett. "He's played well for us all year. It was a timing decision. Obviously he'd like to have that back, but he's been a good player for us all year."
Better days are on the horizon for Williams, who appears to have a promising career ahead of him. But Diggs' game-winning touchdown is the sort of play that lives forever in sporting lore, and Williams' missed tackle will live on with it.