OWINGS MILLS - Baltimore Ravens cornerback Cary Williams would later call it the most frustrating game of his professional career.
Week 3 of this year's regular season against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
The Ravens won, but Williams had what he later described as "probably [his] worst game as a Raven."
And, really, his irritation was evident throughout the game, becoming increasingly noticeable with each Brady completion in his direction.
In all, Brady completed nine of the 13 passes he threw in Williams' direction, racking up 157 yards on those nine completions. Brandon Lloyd finished the game with nine catches for 108 yards - with eight of those catches and 98 of his yards coming while he was being defended by Williams.
"Tom Brady played better than me that day," Williams said in November, later adding, "I just didn't play well at all. ... But whenever I get the opportunity, if that opportunity ever arises, I'll definitely show up next time. It's one of those things that's going to stick with me until I get a chance to redeem myself."
He'll get his shot at redemption Sunday, when the Ravens face Brady and the Patriots in the AFC championship game at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough.
And since struggling early in the season, especially as he worked back from offseason hip surgery that hampered him through the beginning part of the year, Williams has emerged as a consistent, valuable presence in Baltimore's secondary that will continue to be counted on as the Ravens attempt to slow Brady and a prolific New England passing game.
Williams ranked fourth on the Ravens in tackles (75), led the team in pass deflections (17) and tied for the team lead with four interceptions. He has another 18 tackles, three pass deflections and an interception in Baltimore's two playoff games.
During a season in which the Ravens' defense was ravaged by injury, Williams is one of just two defensive starters yet to miss a game this season due to injury.
He didn't make the Pro Bowl, but he led AFC cornerbacks in fan voting for the event in late November.
"His progression this year has been very noticeable," fellow corner Jimmy Smith said. "I think everyone notices it. He made a lot of plays. You could tell he was battling the rustiness from his hip injury at the beginning of the season, but I think he's progressed very well throughout the season."
Added safety James Ihedigbo: "Cary's been great. He's been playing at a high level all year long. That's what's expected of him, and he's done that."
Williams gets another chance against Brady and the Patriots, a game during which Ihedigbo said Williams will play a "big role."
Brady led the AFC in passing yards (4,827) during the regular season and ranked second in the conference with 34 touchdowns. He threw for 344 yards and three scores in leading New England to a 41-28 divisional round win over Houston last week.
"We're really confident in Cary," cornerback Chykie Brown said, "and we're really confident as a defense."