Since the beginning of the season, when the Detroit Lions were profiled in the HBO series “Hard Knocks,” Jamaal Williams has been probably the most important player for the Detroit Lions in terms of both offensive and defensive production.
On Sunday night, the all-time top rusher for BYU broke a team record that had been previously held by a player who is now in the Hall of Fame. Perhaps it was fitting that this happened.
Williams now has 17 rushing touchdowns for the season after scoring two of them on Sunday night in the Lions’ 20-16 win over the Green Bay Packers. The game was played at Ford Field in Detroit. This running touchdown total not only led the National Football League in 2022, but it also broke Barry Sanders‘ record for the most rushing touchdowns scored by the Lions in a single season, which he set in 1991.
Sanders said this in a video message that was published by the team. “I wanted to congratulate you on a wonderful year and for breaking my record,” Sanders said, referring to the mark for the most rushing touchdowns scored by a Detroit Lion in a single season. “Awesome job, guy. You’ve played a significant role in everything that’s gone right this year, and I have no doubt that your best is yet to come. Excellent work!”
Despite the fact that the Lions were unable to secure a position in the postseason, Detroit was successful in preventing Green Bay from moving on to the next round. Seattle was able to claim the No. 7 (and last) NFC spot on Sunday thanks to an overtime victory.
The only thing standing between the Packers and a spot in the playoffs was a victory, but Williams was able to help eliminate his old team. The Lions took the lead in the second half thanks to two touchdowns scored by Williams. The first one occurred when Williams slammed the ball in from one yard out to give Detroit its first lead of the game at 13-9. This was halfway through the third quarter.
Following a retake of the lead by Green Bay, Williams finished off a drive that spanned 13 plays and 75 yards with the game-winning touchdown on a run on third-and-goal. After a touchdown run of 1 yard, the Lions regained the lead, 20-16, with 5:55 left in the game.
Williams finished with the most rushing yards for his squad with 72 while competing against the team that drafted him in 2017. He also rushed for 1,000 yards for the season, reaching that milestone for the first time in his career. Heading into the last week of the regular season, he needed just 6 yards to achieve the 1,000-yard mark for the first time in his career. He finished his best season ever with 1,066 yards on the ground.
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Another former BYU running back, Tyler Allgeier, also surpassed the 1,000-yard rushing milestone for the season on Sunday. Allgeier rushed for 135 yards for Atlanta, bringing his total for the year to 1,035, putting him ahead of the 1,000-yard mark. Williams and Allgeier are the only two former BYU running backs to run for 1,000 yards in a season while playing at the NFL level. Williams and Allgeier both played for the Utah Utes.
Williams honored his great-grandfather by naming the record he broke with the Lions after him. “All I can say is that I’m thankful to be able to do this for him…. He stated this sentiment on the NBC broadcast that aired after the game: “I’m just thankful to have him in my life and grateful to play football.”
“Right now, there are a lot of memories, and I’m going through a lot of different feelings, but I’m thankful that I get to play this game for my great-grandfather. I’m sure he’s gazing down on me, and I’m sure I’m doing something to make him proud.
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