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NOTEBOOK: Jamaal Williams breaks Barry Sanders' franchise rushing TD record

Running back Jamaal Williams wrote down all his goals before the season began.

His goal for rushing touchdowns in 2022 was eight. He put a check in front of that one before the month of October was completed.

Williams just kept scoring touchdowns and with two Sunday night in Detroit's 20-16 season finale victory over Green Bay, Williams sits alone atop the Lions' single-season rushing touchdown record with 17. He passed Hall of Famer Barry Sanders, who has had the record of 16 since 1991.

Williams finished Sunday with 72 yards on 16 carries and the only two touchdowns in the game for the Lions. He finished the year with 1,066 yards and 17 touchdowns, and earned a game ball for his performance against the Packers, the team Williams started his career with.

"Everybody is happy for Jamaal," head coach Dan Campbell said after the game. "The fact that he got 1,000 yards and beat Barry's record means a lot to that offensive line and everyone involved in that run game. He's the ultimate team guy. He's an energy guy. He's one of the most unselfish players I've ever been around. He's all about it for the team."

Williams said after the game that the passing of his father and great grandfather has weighed on him this season and that's why getting 1,000 yards for the first time in his six-year career and breaking Sanders' touchdown record means so much to him.

"This was a great day for me. Great night. Great game," Williams said. "The only thing I can really think about is family members that have passed away. I really just dedicated this game for them. It's been a lot and my heart has been heavy for a little bit."

To know Williams and the infectious energy he brings to the building and the field, you would never know he had a heavy heart. Williams always manages to have a smile on his face and has become one of the true team leaders on this squad.

Williams is an unrestricted free agent this offseason and said he'd love to re-sign with Detroit if the Lions will have him. He said he loves Campbell, the coaching staff and the foundation that's being built in Detroit.


Campbell was pretty open earlier this season saying one of his biggest regrets was not letting quarterback Jared Goff and the offense try and win the game late in a Week 3 loss to Minnesota. He instead tried a long field goal, which was missed, and the Vikings went down the field late and came from behind to win the game.

Fast forward a little over three months to Sunday night and Campbell was facing a similar scenario with a 4th and 1 with less than two minutes to play. This time, Campbell put the ball in Goff's hands to win it.

"Let's let Goff finish this thing off for us. Let's let him win this game," Campbell said of the decision. "We put a big hat on him and had a feeling what they would be in and we just believe in Goff. He's been the guy that's played lights out the back half of this season. Really all season, he just had some bumps like all of us did early in the year. Let's put the onus on him, man. Let's let him win this for us and he did that."

Goff found wide receiver DJ Chark open in the middle of the field past the sticks for the first down and the win.

Goff, 28, has made it pretty clear over the last 10 games that he's the quarterback of the future here in Detroit. He finished the year completing 65 percent of his passes for 4,438 yards with 29 touchdowns, seven interceptions and a 99.3 passer rating. He didn't throw an interception in his last nine games, a stretch of over 300 passes.

"He's our quarterback," Campbell said after the game.


Defensive lineman Aidan Hutchinson had two critical sacks of Aaron Rodgers that forced field goals. He finished his first NFL season with 9.5 sacks, a half sack short of Ndamukong's Suh rookie record.

Safety Kerby Joseph had arguably the biggest play of the game Sunday with his fourth interception of the season late to preserve the win.

"(The moment) wasn't too big for them," Campbell said. "They went out there and played ball. It's about improving and competing. It was good to see them go out and do what they've done every week. 'Hey man, it doesn't matter what stage we're on. We're going to go out and produce.' It's good for those guys."


Campbell said the next step for this team is to get into the playoffs. There will be high expectations for them heading into 2023 after an 8-2 finish to the season and a near miss of the playoffs.

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