Williams catches game ball

Rising rookie's first touchdown catch proves to be a game-winner

Ravens Gameday

Ravens 27 Browns 17

December 18, 2006|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN REPORTER

One of the first people to greet Ravens rookie wide receiver Demetrius Williams after recording the first touchdown of his NFL career during yesterday's 27-17 win over the Cleveland Browns was defensive tackle Haloti Ngata.

The 6-foot-4, 340-pound Ngata, who was a teammate of Williams' at Oregon for four years, lifted the 6-2, 197-pound wide receiver into the air and gave him a quick bear hug.

Ngata afterward admitted that he felt nearly as elated about Williams scoring as Williams did.

"I'm just so proud of him and how well he's doing this year," Ngata said. "With me and him coming out of Oregon, it's good to see us both doing well this year."

While much was expected of Ngata, the 12th overall pick in this year's draft, Williams was seemingly an afterthought as he dropped to the fourth round and was the 14th receiver selected.

Williams is burnishing Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome's reputation even brighter after catching two passes for 100 yards yesterday, including a 77-yard catch-and-run touchdown strike from quarterback Kyle Boller in the third quarter.

Williams, who is fourth among the team's receivers in yardage with 336 yards on 18 receptions, said he is beginning to hit his stride in the Ravens' offense.

"It's starting to pick up a little bit for me," he said. "I'm getting a little more comfortable with the games, and having receivers out there like [Derrick] Mason and Mark Clayton - guys that you can count on - just makes it a lot easier for me."

Williams' touchdown was an example of his growing comfort level in the system. On third-and-10 from the Ravens' 23-yard line, Williams lined up to the right of Boller.

Running a seam route, Williams could've cut to the outside or run down the middle of the field. Williams opted for the latter and after blowing past defensive backs Sean Jones and Daven Holly, appeared to slow up at Cleveland's 25 to catch Boller's pass and sprint to the left front corner of the end zone.

"It was a simple read play," Williams said. "I made a read to go through the middle of the field, and Kyle just made a great throw. He couldn't have put the ball anywhere else, so I had the obligation to catch the ball."

Coach Brian Billick joined in the praises of Williams.

"Every time he gets an opportunity, that young man makes a play," he said. "You can't ask more of a rookie."

It's a wonder then how Williams lasted four rounds in the draft. Williams has vaulted past receivers Clarence Moore and Devard Darling on the Ravens' depth chart and has joined Mason and Clayton as the only wide receivers to be activated for all 14 games this season.

Williams has recorded seven plays of 20 yards or more from scrimmage and ranks fourth behind Mason, Clayton and Heap in first downs with 14.

"I don't know how he got to the fourth round because I honestly believe that he's a first-round receiver," Clayton said.

Williams won't get bogged down in the debate. Instead, he said he plans to commemorate the football that he carried into the end zone for his first NFL touchdown.

"I'm going to take it home and actually put it up," he said. "It's my first one. I had one in preseason, but that doesn't count."

edward.lee@baltsun.com

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