Williams all over Owens

Monday, December 10, 2001

ST. LOUIS -- Terrell Owens, the focal point of the San Francisco 49ers' attack, couldn't shake Aeneas Williams.

Owens has four career 100-yard receiving games against the St. Louis Rams, but he was held to three catches for 54 yards in a 27-14 loss Sunday.

"I don't want to overshadow the game itself, but certainly neutralizing him was a big part of it," Williams said. "We needed to do it and we did it."

Owens entered the game second in the NFC with 75 catches and first in the NFL with 13 receiving touchdowns. He consistently got tight coverage from Williams as the Rams (10-2) overtook the 49ers (9-3) in the NFC West.

On the first play from scrimmage, Owens got behind Williams but was overthrown by San Francisco quarterback Jeff Garcia. Two plays later, Garcia spotted Owens open in the middle of the field, but Williams stepped in front of the pass for an interception.

"That was huge, it sent a message that we were here to play," Rams linebacker London Fletcher said. "Aeneas had a phenomenal game."

Owens called it a missed opportunity.

"One play doesn't make the game, but that was an opportunity for us to get some things going on offense," Owens said. "We didn't get it done."

Midway through the second quarter, the 49ers were deep in St. Louis territory when Williams came up with another big play. Owens ran a corner-post route and Williams, although penalized on the play for holding, knocked the ball away at the last moment in the back of the end zone.

Owens fell awkwardly and suffered a hip-pointer, making two trips to the locker room for treatment. He played the second half, getting two of his receptions.

Garcia tried repeatedly to force the ball to Owens, but Williams didn't back away. Owens' longest completion: a 25-yarder on a second-quarter crossing route.

"He really didn't do anything except for holding me the whole game," Owens said of Williams. "I didn't feel like I struggled. I was out there trying to win every route."

Early in the third quarter, Garcia had Owens open but Williams again broke up the pass. Williams appeared to jam several of his fingers but missed only one play.

Williams got his second interception of the game in the fourth quarter. San Francisco tight end Justin Swift bobbled a pass, and Williams swooped in for his fourth pick of the season.

Saying he didn't contain Owens all by himself, Williams praised the entire Rams defense.

"I credit the linebackers because so many guys were aware of what was going on back there," Williams said. "You have to give other guys credit as well."

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