Former Utah safety Marcus Williams went from a hero to a goat, all in a heartbeat of a gut-wrenching loss in the NFL divisional round of the playoffs.
His missed tackle on the game's final play overshadowed an otherwise solid day for the New Orleans rookie in the Saints' 29-24 loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.
With Minnesota facing a third-and-10 from its own 39 and trailing 24-23 with 10 seconds to play, Vikings quarterback Case Keenum rolled back in the pocket and threw a pass to Stefon Diggs along the sideline at the Saints' 34-yard line.
Williams, from his free safety position, came up to defend the play but whiffed on the tackle attempt as he went low, also taking out another defender, and Diggs stayed on his feet and stayed inbounds, then raced the rest of the way for the walk-off touchdown in Minnesota’s 29-24 victory.
It was a bitter end to what has been a standout rookie season for Williams, the Saints’ second-round pick in last year’s NFL draft. In the third quarter, Williams came up with his first career playoff interception to help New Orleans get back in the game after trailing 17-0.
Moments after the Saints cut the Vikings’ lead to 17-7, Williams picked off a floating Keenum pass at the Minnesota 42-yard line. Williams returned the pick, his fifth of the season, to the Minnesota 30, setting up a New Orleans touchdown six plays later to make it a 17-14 game.
Williams finished the game with five tackles, including three solo stops, and two pass deflections, in addition to his interception.
Marcus Williams has been through adversity before and handled it like a warrior! He will do the same with this. Great rookie season with 6 Interceptions and has shown that he will be special in that league. One play will not define this young man, and he will come back stronger!!— Morgan Scalley (@SafetyPride) January 15, 2018
Here’s a look at how other NFL locals performed during the divisional round of the playoffs, including players on injured reserve or practice squads, and noteworthy snap counts:
VIKINGS 29, SAINTS 24
No local players
Taysom Hill, QB, BYU: Hill used his speed to help apply pressure to Minnesota punter Ryan Quigley on a key punt deflection late in the game. With 5:28 to play, Hill got past his defender and raced toward Quigley, just missing the chance to block the punt. However, Saints teammate George Johnson got a hand on the ball and it traveled 1 yard, setting up New Orleans at the Vikings' 41-yard line. The Saints scored four plays later on a touchdown pass to take their first lead at 24-23.
Hill played 19 unofficial snaps on special teams for the Saints.
JAGUARS 45, STEELERS 42
No local players on active roster
On practice squad: Hunter Dimick, DE, Utah and Syracuse High
Brian Allen, CB, Utah: Came on as a reserve.
PATRIOTS 35, TITANS 14
Eric Rowe, CB, Utah: Started at defensive back and led the Patriots with five tackles, including four solo stops, while playing 52 defensive snaps. Rowe made a third-down stop 2 yards short of a first down near midfield during the second quarter and also had an assisted tackle for a stop on a third-and-18 play in the fourth quarter.
Kyle Van Noy, LB, BYU: Started at linebacker and had two solo tackles while playing 45 defensive snaps. In his second game back from a calf injury, Van Noy also nearly had a sack and helped the Patriots hold Tennessee to 65 rushing yards while sacking Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota eight times.
On practice squad: Trevor Reilly, LB, Utah
On injured reserve: Harvey Langi, LB, BYU and Bingham High
Brice McCain, CB, Utah: Came on as a reserve on special teams.
On injured reserve: LeShaun Sims, CB, Southern Utah
EAGLES 15, FALCONS 10
No local players
Derrick Shelby, DE, Utah: Had a pass deflection on a first-and-goal play from the 3-yard line in the second quarter and made a solo tackle on the next play, stopping Philadelphia for a 1-yard gain at the Atlanta 2.