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Sports Illustrated
Sports Illustrated
Jelani Scott

Lions RB Jamaal Williams Caps Historic Night with Emotional Interview

Following a stunning Lions victory over the Packers at Lambeau Field on Sunday to close the NFL’s regular season, running back Jamaal Williams capped a memorable night with an unforgettable postgame interview following Detroit’s 20–16 win.

Williams, who spent his first four seasons with Green Bay, returned to his old stomping grounds to help the Lions topple their NFC North rival and prevent Aaron Rodgers and Co. from returning to the postseason. Williams stamped the huge win with a two-touchdown performance to pass Hall of Famer Barry Sanders’s franchise record (16) for the most rushing scores in a season; the sixth-year pro also went over the 1,000-yard mark in the win for the first time in his career.

After the game, an emotional Williams spoke to NBC sideline reporter Melissa Stark and dedicated his big day to his 92-year-old great grandfather, who recently passed away. 

“I just dedicate this to him,” a teary-eyed Williams told Stark. “I’m just proud, I’m just grateful to do this for him … I’m just grateful for him to be in my life and I’m grateful to be able to play football and do this for him.”

As Williams tried his best to regain his composure, the 27-year-old quickly flipped the switch back to beast mode and wiped away the tears to send a message to everyone who doubted Detroit going into the matchup. Going into Sunday night, the entire NBC crew, minus Tony Dungy, notably predicted the Packers would beat the Lions during the pregame show.

“And another thing, stop playing us, man,” Williams continued. “We the Detroit Lions, we the Detroit Lions, stop playing with us and I don’t even watch TV but I heard everybody already picked the Packers over us. Stop playing with us, that’s all I got to say, man. Don’t let these tears fool you, this all dawg around this mug. I’m good.”

While Williams appeared reluctant to continue sharing his emotions, it’s unlikely anyone would dare challenge his toughness, especially after his career year.

Against Green Bay, Williams logged 16 carries for 72 yards and two TDs, his sixth multi-TD game of the season. Both of his scores came on one-yard plunges, with the first coming in the third quarter to give the Lions a 13–9 lead. But it was Williams’s second score that ultimately proved to be the difference, as he found the end zone with 5:55 to play in the fourth quarter to give Detroit the deciding edge.

Williams finished his second season with the Lions with a career-high 262 carries, 1,066 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns. Despite missing the playoffs for the sixth straight year, the 2022 campaign is the Lions’ first winning season (9–8) since 2017.

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