Kyle Williams made two crucial errors in the 2012 NFC Championship Game on Sunday, but it is likely that the second, larger mistake will be the one for which he is remembered, at least for the time being.
With the game tied 17-17 in overtime, the 49ers defense had managed to stop the Giants twice under the new overtime rules. San Francisco lined up for the punt return and Williams made the catch. As he attempted to return the ball, he fumbled it away to New York, setting up excellent field position for the eventual winning field goal that sent the Giants to the Super Bowl. It should be noted that the second-year player Williams was returning punts because starter Ted Ginn Jr. was out of the game with a knee injury.
Josh Dubow of the Associated Press via the Chicago Sun-Times relayed some comments from Williams following the game.
You hate to be the last guy that had the ball, to give it away in that fashion and to lose a game of this magnitude. It is what it is. We're going to move forward as a team. Everyone has come to pat me on the back and the shoulder to say it's not me.
It was one of those situations where I caught the ball, tried to head upfield, tried to make a play and it ended up for the worse.
Williams appeared shaken up after the game as a result of his fumble, but his teammates are already being vocal in their support of the young player.
"I told him we're all in this together," San Francisco All Pro linebacker Patrick Willis said. "I believe in him. If I had a do-over, he'd still be my guy back there. He's a tremendous athlete."
The support of his teammates will go a long way, even if Williams ends up being vilified for the play in the city of San Francisco.
For more on the 2012 NFC Championship Game, visit 49ers blog Niners Nation, Giants blog Big Blue View and SB Nation New York and SB Nation Bay Area. Don't forget to check out SB Nation's NFL hub for all your playoff news.