They saw it the night before, knowing it was going to work.
Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt wasted no time going to it as soon as the opportunity presented itself.
The result? A 10-yard touchdown strike from Philip Rivers to Mike Williams in the back of the end zone to put the Bolts ahead early in the first quarter.
“Last night we talked about (it),” Rivers said. “It was like, ‘Hey, if we get down in there, that eight, nine, 10-yard line, we like that play against these guys.’ And Whiz (Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt) went right to it. Mike did a nice job of holding on to it in traffic.”
Williams knew the ball was coming to him, and he didn’t let the moment go to waste.
“I was the first read. I was open, and Philip put the ball up for me to make the play so I went up and got it,” he said. “The coaches put me in the right position to be successful, and I just had to go out there and make the play. I got a post-ball called. I motioned out and the corner backed up off me, so I recognized I had to go up and make the play.”
That doesn’t mean it was easy. Number 81 rose high to catch the ball, using his strong mitts to hold on despite being leveled by two defenders.
“I just (had to) focus on the ball,” he explained. “That’s the main thing. (I needed to) make sure I caught the ball. I’m in the end zone, so I just had to make the catch … I expected what happened. You visualize it. In practice, I’ve made that play a lot of times and I got an opportunity in the game so I had to go up and make a play.”
The second-year wideout finished the game with only two catches for 27 yards, but they were both game changers. His first was the touchdown, which was also the first of his career.
However, the second was equally important even if fans won’t remember it as much as the TD.
On the Bolts’ next series, Williams made a tough 17-yard reception to move the chains on 3rd-and-12. One play later, Melvin Gordon took the rock untouched 20 yards to the end zone to give the Bolts a 14-0 lead.
One score of his own plus one assist equaled an early two touchdown lead.
“That big third down on the 3rd-and-long, just kind of staying in there, being big in there (was huge),” Rivers said.
As thrilled as Williams was to score his first career touchdown, that third down reception was equally satisfying as he knows it led to an all-important touchdown.
“We scored on the next play,” he said. “I felt like that play was just as big as the first one because it kept the drive going. If I didn’t make that play, we were going to punt or (attempt) a field goal. That play opened the offense up more.”