The Giants took advantage of two late miscues by 49ers punt returner Kyle Williams in Sunday’s 20-17 overtime win against the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game, and two Giants’ punt coverage specialists said afterward that they were aware of Williams’ concussion issues coming into the game and devised strategy to take advantage of the situation.
"The thing is, we knew he had four concussions, so that was our biggest thing, was to take him outta the game," said Jacquian Williams, who forced a Williams fumble in overtime to set up the Giants’ game-winning field goal.
"He's had a lot of concussions," said Devin Thomas, who recovered both fumbles. "We were just like, 'We gotta put a hit on that guy.'"
But Thomas said today that no one on the Giants was purposely attempting to give Williams another concussion. Williams had a ball deflect off his knee in the fourth quarter, and Thomas recovered the muffed punt to set up a touchdown drive.
“It was more about understanding personnel,” Thomas said. “You want to find every strength and weakness you can. The whole concept of him having concussions is you know he’s been hit a lot. I’ve had a concussion. When you get rattled like that, your judgment sometimes changes. You worry about getting hit instead of worrying about protecting the ball or whatnot. He’s the backup returner, so he’s being put in a huge role for a huge game. There’s things like that that you key on putting an emphasis on putting a good hit on him. Legal hit, no cheap shots. Let’s see if we can get a turnover.”
Thomas said the Giants weren’t attempting to give Williams another concussion. “That’s not the concept,” he said. “It’s just going after somebody knowing you can do something to change the game.”