GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Facing his old team while wearing Honolulu blue and silver, former Green Bay Packers running back Jamaal Williams etched his named in the Detroit Lions' record book Sunday night at Lambeau Field.
With a goal-line score at 5:55 in the fourth quarter, Williams passed Lions Hall of Famer Barry Sanders with his 17th rushing touchdown of the season for the most in Lions history.
Sanders set the mark in 1991.
A record-setting score for @jswaggdaddy!#DETvsGB | 📺 NBC pic.twitter.com/LkTxeIeUQP— Detroit Lions (@Lions) January 9, 2023
"I write goals for myself every year, and this year, I hit a lot of them," Williams said. "It's just like, 'Wow.' You make those at the beginning of OTAs and before the season, and I look at my goal list now and check, check, check. And I've got one on there that I didn't even have, which is the rushing [touchdowns] record, which is a check that I didn't even have on my goals.
"I'm just blessed for it. It makes me even more hungry. I'm not satisfied. I think that's my curse because I just feel like I can always be better, so I've still got a lot more to go."
The Lions would hold on to beat the Packers, 20-16, as Williams also finished as the NFL's leader in total rushing touchdowns. Initially, he said his goal was just to get eight touchdowns on the season.
Williams scored his 16th touchdown at 8:05 in the third quarter from the goal line, which was set up by a 43-yard completion from Lions quarterback Jared Goff to receiver Kalif Raymond.
.@jswaggdaddy ties the 🐐 with his 16th rushing touchdown of the year!#DETvsGB | 📺 NBC pic.twitter.com/rwd9ed0QAL— Detroit Lions (@Lions) January 9, 2023
GOFF GOES DEEP.— NFL (@NFL) January 9, 2023
📺: #DETvsGB on NBC
📱: Stream on NFL+ https://t.co/9hDtJVDM1m pic.twitter.com/lDFL8tYjSE
It was Williams' first rushing touchdown in four career games against the Packers. He spent the first four seasons of his career in Green Bay, from 2017 to 2020.
"Jamaal is a threat anywhere on the field, but he is just a beast in goal line, and the way he, [RB D'Andre] Swift and the line have all come together is really fun to watch," Sanders said in a statement to ESPN. "I am really happy for all the players and coaches, and I hope he goes for the NFL record and not just the team record."
After the victory, Williams, who was given one of the game balls, grew emotional as he dedicated the performance to his late great-grandfather, Sylvester Smith, who passed away at 93 years old Dec. 29. Due to the regular-season finale, Williams couldn't attend Smith's funeral Saturday in Colorado Springs, Colorado, but said he felt his spirit throughout the game.
"He was always there. For me, he was the head of the household for everybody," Williams said. "Me and him really correlated together because I really didn't need anything from him except for us just talking, but we connected because he felt like 'Big Dog' in the house and I'm 'Big Dog' in my house. And I didn't really need anything from him, so all he really did was talk about life, how to be better men, how to be a better father, husband and just try to be a better man."
He also lost his great-grandmother, Alton Smith, on April 26, 2022. They were married for 73 years.
"Right now, I've been going through a lot of death in my family, so I know they're getting old, and the time is coming, but it's still hard at the same time, but you've got to play football," Williams said. "Like, I couldn't even make my great-grandfather's funeral because it was on Saturday. It hurts, but at the same time, I know they're looking over me and they're proud for me upstairs. I just pray, and that's how I talk to them."