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Marcus Williams’ whiffed tackle on Stefon Diggs made him the unfortunate scapegoat in the Saints’ loss

Saints rookie Marcus Williams was likely trying to avoid a penalty when he whiffed on the last play of the game.

The Minnesota Vikings are on to the NFC Championship after an incredible, last-second victory over the New Orleans Saints.

With less than 10 seconds left in the game, Vikings quarterback Case Keenum heaved a ball to Stefon Diggs in traffic and he was inexplicably able to break free for a 61-yard walk off touchdown. But the miracle finish was aided by a whiff from Saints safety Marcus Williams that left Diggs with nothing but green grass in front of him.

The question for most watching was just “What in the world was Williams thinking?”

The play began with 10 seconds left and the Vikings had no timeouts left, so a tackle in bounds would’ve ended it.

Instead he missed Diggs entirely and Twitter reacted:

After the game, FOX’s Jimmy Johnson gave an explanation for why Williams may have reacted the way he did. One of the worst case scenarios for New Orleans would’ve been a pass interference call to stop the clock and give the Vikings a chance at a game-winning field goal try.

New Orleans had already picked up four pass interference penalties, including one on Williams earlier in the game, so the officials weren’t giving the secondary much leeway.

So Williams thinking that either — A) The pass was sailing out of bounds, or B) Diggs’ legs were a safer route to make the tackle and avoid a penalty — opted to go low instead.

Former Saints safety Steve Gleason thought the same after the watching the play.

It didn’t work out at all and it’s hard not to feel bad for the rookie safety.

“I’m gonna take it upon myself to do all that I can to never let that happen again,” Williams told reporters after the game, via ESPN. “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.”

A day later, he tweeted with resolve:

His teammates also came to his defense after the game.

“He’s going to have so many opportunities, and he’s going to make so many great plays in the future,” Saints linebacker Manti Te’o said, via The Times-Picayune. “Everybody makes mistakes, and it wasn’t even him, you know what I mean? It wasn’t just him. He didn’t lose that game.

“He’s a young player, and he has a bright future ahead of him. He’s going to make more great plays than mistakes, and I’m just excited for the kid. He’s going to come back, and he’s going to get better.”

Fellow rookie Marshon Lattimore tweeted words of support as well:

Ultimately, there are many other reasons beyond Williams’ missed tackle that also contributed to the loss. The Saints fell into a 17-0 hole early and didn’t score any points until the final minutes of the third quarter. But in the biggest moment of the game, one of the team’s best rookies whiffed and that will stay with him all offseason.

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