It probably took longer into the game than anyone would’ve preferred, but Jamaal Williams tied then set the Detroit Lions’ single season record for rushing touchdowns on Sunday night.
Jamaal Williams has had a fantastic second season with the Detroit Lions, leading the NFL with 15 rushing touchdowns heading into Week 18. He was also six yards shy of his first career 1,000-yard rushing season, with a $250,000 incentive bonus when he inevitably got there Sunday night against his former team the Green Bay Packers.
In Lions’ history, Williams joined some exclusive company by simply having a 1,000-yard rushing season. Reggie Bush was Detroit’s last 1,000-yard rusher, in 2013, and Kevin Jones (2004), James Stewart (2000 and 2002), Barry Sanders (1989-1998), Billy Sims (1980, 1981 and 1983) and Steve Owens (1971) are the other 1,000-yard rushers in franchise history.
Via Kyle Meinke of MLive, Williams talked about being on the verge of joining a select group of Lions running backs.
"I’m just grateful to be mentioned in the group with those types of players, and just how great they were in their careers,” Williams said. “I’m just trying to be the best in my career. I’m just grateful to be in a special group like that.”"
Williams had five carries for 28 yards around halfway through the third quarter. A deep pass from Jared Goff to Kalif Raymond for 43 yards landed the Lions at the 1-yard line. Plenty of Williams’ previous 15 scores this season have come from that distance, so he was a practical lock to get his 16th rushing touchdown of the season, right?
Jamaal Williams ties, then breaks Lions franchise record previously held by Barry Sanders
Hall of Famer Barry Sanders had 16 rushing touchdowns in 1991, which happens to be the last season the Lions won a playoff game. This year’s Lions were close to making the playoffs, but Williams is now in some obviously very heady company in franchise history.
The only other Lions running backs, besides Sanders and Williams, to have double-digit rushing touchdowns in a season are Sims (13, in 1980 and 1981) and Stewart (10 in 2000).
Update: Williams got his second touchdown of the game in the fourth quarter, giving the Lions the lead again. The franchise record is now his alone, with 17 rushing touchdowns this year.