EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Leonard Williams continues adding new and impressive entries to his resume.
For the second time in the season's final five weeks, Williams has been named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week. He received the Week 17 honor this morning for his dominant performance in the Giants' season-ending 23-17 victory against Dallas on Sunday.
Williams had a career-high 3.0 sacks for 20 yards in losses, five quarterback hits and two critical pressures to help the Giants defeat their NFC East rivals for the first time in four years. The sacks boosted Williams season total to 11.5 sacks – 7.5 more than any of his teammates, 4.5 more than his previous career high, set in 2016 with the Jets, 11 more than he had in 2019 and just 6.0 less than he had in his first five years combined. They are the most by a Giants' player since Jason Pierre-Paul had 14.5 in 2014. The Giants finished the season with 40 sacks, their highest total since they had 47 in 2014.
Williams made two critical plays with the Giants trying to protect a four-point lead in the final two minutes against Dallas. With 1:53 remaining, the Cowboys had a first-and-goal at the Giants' seven-yard line when Williams sacked Andy Dalton for a 10-yard loss. Two plays later, on third down from the 17, Williams pressured Dalton into throwing a pass that floated into the end zone, where rookie safety Xavier McKinney made a game-saving interception.
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Williams was first named Player of the Week after the Giants defeated the NFC West champion Seahawks in Seattle, 17-12, on Dec. 6. In that game, he tied his then career high with 2.5 sacks – all in the second half – for 25.5 yards and was credited with five of the Giants' 10 pressures on Russell Wilson, who was seemingly harassed by Williams every time he dropped back to pass.
In the third quarter, Williams sacked Wilson for a 15-yard loss to help force a Seattle punt. Midway through the fourth quarter, Williams teamed with Jabaal Sheard for a five-yard sack. And with the Seahawks desperately trying to drive for the go-ahead touchdown, Williams sacked Wilson for a 10-yard loss on a third down with 48 seconds remaining, all but ending the Seattle's chances to win the game (Wilson threw a desperation incompletion on fourth down).
In the Giants' final five games, Williams totaled 21 tackles (11 solo) 5.5 sacks for 40 yards in losses, 5 tackles for loss ad 11 quarterback hits.
Williams is the first Giants player to win two Player of the Week awards in the same season since punter Brad Wing in 2016. He is the first defensive player to achieve that double since safety Landon Collins that same season and the first defensive lineman to be honored twice cited since Pierre-Paul in 2011, the season in which the Giants won Super Bowl XLVI.