For every playoff hero, there is goat, and Sunday’s AFC and NFC championship games followed the script.
In Baltimore’s 23-20 loss to New England, you could take your pick of goats between Lee Evans, who dropped the go-ahead touchdown, and Billy Cundiff, who shanked the game-tying 32-yard field goal attempt.
But after his San Francisco 49ers fell to the New York Giants, 20-17 in overtime last night, punt returner Kyle Williams had it just as bad. The 23-year-old had to swallow a pair of costly punt handling miscues — the second of which resulted in New York’s game-winning field goal.
Several 49ers players were quick to rally around their devastated teammate, but some fans were not as forgiving. In the immediate aftermath of Lawrence Tynes’ game-winning field goal, Williams began receiving death threats on the Internet.
Williams was bombarded with vicious comments on Twitter, with angry fans writing they hope his family dies or that his car gets bombed. (The San Jose Mercury News has a full list here.)
The first mistake came early in the fourth quarter when Williams hesitated before getting out of the way of a bouncing punt. The ball nicked his knee and New York’s Devin Thomas recovered, setting up the Giants’ only second-half score.
The second miscue came in overtime, when Jacquian Williams punched the ball out of Williams’s grasp to give the Giants the field position they needed to put the game away. In all, the unfortunate bounce and the fumble directly led to 10 of New York’s 20 points.
“You hate to be the last guy that had the ball, to give it up that way in that fashion and to lose a game of this magnitude,” Williams said. “But it is what it is, and we’re going to move forward as a team.”
“The game didn’t come down to Kyle Williams — it never did,” 49ers lineman Ricky Jean Francois said. “We could’ve ended that game many times.”
@KyleWilliams_10 keep ur head up. U r my brother n teammate N I would put u back there all over again. We all lost this game tonight not u.— Patrick willis (@PatrickWillis52) January 23, 2012
I didn’t think this would happen but ppl need to get a grip! Leave Kyle alone! We win and lose as a team. Not from one person or play.— David Akers (@DavidAkers2) January 23, 2012
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