A. Williams makes most of spotlight

Notebook

Part of rebuilt Rams 'D,' corner intercepts key pass

Pro Football : NFC Championship Game

January 28, 2002|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

ST. LOUIS - Cornerback Aeneas Williams toiled for 10 years in a place that, at times, must have seemed like a football wasteland.

Now, after making an interception that sealed a 29-24 St. Louis victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC championship game yesterday, Williams will make his first Super Bowl appearance Sunday when the Rams face the New England Patriots.

Williams played for 10 seasons with the often-awful Arizona Cardinals before coming to St. Louis this season as one of eight new defensive starters for the Rams.

"The Lord allowed me to release all of my potential," Williams said, "and I am joyous of what I have with this team."

Williams can believe his team is joyous with him. Besides having a Pro Bowl season, Williams made the Rams' most important defensive play yesterday, intercepting Donovan McNabb's pass with less than two minutes left.

On fourth-and-seven from the Eagles' 48, McNabb tried to force a pass to receiver Freddie Mitchell, but Williams cut in front and picked it off.

"We were in a man-to-man situation," said Williams, who also finished with eight tackles. "I was able to get my hands on my receiver, stick close to him, and when the receiver and I look back and McNabb still has the ball, then one of things I want to do is get close to him, start pushing him and if the ball is in the air, make a play on the ball."

McNabb held in check

McNabb's longest scramble was for 10 yards.

Consider that a major reason why the Rams came away with the win. McNabb rushed for 26 yards on four carries as the Rams' defense generally kept him from making plays with his feet.

"Our guys were relentless in trying to keep him hemmed up," said Rams coach Mike Martz.

In the previous two playoff games, McNabb rushed for a combined 94 yards and a touchdown in wins over Tampa Bay and Chicago.

Doing it again

Kim Herring and O.J. Brigance, who played on last year's Super Bowl champion Ravens team, will try to make it two in a row Sunday.

Herring, the Rams' starting safety, and Brigance, a key special teams contributor, signed as free agents last off-season.

"It is a little different now just because [the Ravens] were such a one-sided team," Herring said, comparing the two teams. "The defense dominated the headlines, and rightfully so. This year ... our offense took the headlines until the end of the year, when people realized this defense is pretty good."

Et cetera

Former Dunbar star Tommy Polley led the Rams with 11 tackles. Polley will have the chance for the trifecta Sunday with a Super Bowl win, having won a state championship at Dunbar in 1995 and a national championship at Florida State in 1999. ... Rams offensive tackle Orlando Pace left in the first quarter with a right medial collateral ligament sprain but returned. Defensive tackle Brain Young hyper-extended a knee but should be ready for the Super Bowl.

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