WIL­LIAMS SHINES

Packer Plus - - News - Jim Owczarski Mil­wau­kee Jour­nal Sentinel

Run­ning back re­wards trust with stel­lar per­for­mance

East Rutherford, N.J. — Down 15 points in the fourth quar­ter, the Green Bay Pack­ers ran 25 plays that counted toward eras­ing the deficit — and an­other eight in over­time Sun­day to beat the New York Jets 44-38 at MetLife Sta­dium.

Within those 33 plays of crit­i­cal of­fen­sive foot­ball, Ja­maal Wil­liams had his num­ber called for nine of them. In to­tal, the se­cond-year run­ning back touched the ball a sea­son-high 21 times for a ca­reer-high 156 yards of to­tal of­fense.

“Oh! Re­minds me of BYU! Oh!” Wil­liams quipped about his work­load, ref­er­enc­ing his lead-back col­lege days at Brigham Young Uni­ver­sity.

Pack­ers in­terim head coach and play caller Joe Philbin said dur­ing the week that Wil­liams was go­ing to be a big part of his game plan, and Wil­liams didn’t dis­ap­point — es­pe­cially in crunch time. On what turned into the go-ahead scor­ing drive near the end of reg­u­la­tion, Wil­liams ran four yards on first-and-10 from his own 17. Four plays later, a screen to the right picked up 26 yards.

“Oh, this is ‘ bout to be beau­ti­ful,” Wil­liams said of see­ing the Jets clog up the mid­dle of the field. “This is about to be beau­ti­ful. All we gotta do is get out. If we get out we can just get mov­ing.”

The Jets brought de­fend­ers into the “A” gaps — or brack­et­ing cen­ter Corey Lins­ley be­tween guards Lu­cas Pa­trick and Justin McCray — and Wil­liams knew it would work. He just had to sell his block.

“You just gotta bluff it and play your lit­tle ac­tor game and ‘oh, I see you,’” Wil­liams said of the play. “You just gotta get in there and play your game, be an ac­tor, and once you get the ball you get up the field and you al­ready know where they ’re com­ing from.”

Wil­liams sold it and then sneaked out, and got down to the Jets’ 24.

Six plays later Aaron Rodgers stuck the ball over the goal line for a touch­down and (after a two-point con­ver­sion) a 38-35 lead with 72 sec­onds left in reg­u­la­tion.

“Luck­ily we’ve got No. 12 back there let­ting us know there’s still time on the clock, let’s get yards, yards over time, so we just try to go down and score as fast as we can and win the game,” Wil­liams said. “I feel like we han­dled it great. I feel like we were calm, cool, col- lected the whole time, just en­joy­ing each other, high-fiv­ing each other any­time we did some­thing good and just try­ing to keep it rolling.”

There were a cou­ple of short runs by Wil­liams that were stuffed, in­clud­ing two third-and-one plays that re­sulted in the Pack­ers hav­ing to go for it on fourth down. But he also peeled off runs of 19, 13 and 15 yards. On the day, he av­er­aged 6.3 yards per carry. He also was se­cond on the team with nine tar­gets and six catches for 61 yards.

“That’s who Ja­maal is,” Lins­ley said. “I feel like Aaron Jones is a spe­cial back but Ja­maal is as well. They ’re both great backs. They ’re both ex­tremely coach­able and ex­tremely tal­ented and I think they got it all. It was nice to see Ja­maal show it off.”

The Pack­ers came i nto the game ranked No. 3 in the NFL in yards per rush­ing at­tempt (5.0) and that con­tin­ued with a heavy push up front and a well-ex­e­cuted game plan from Philbin and run-game co­or­di­na­tor/of­fen­sive line coach James Cam­pen.

Even with McCray hav­ing to fill in for in­jured starter Lane Tay­lor after the game’s se­cond se­ries, Wil­liams was able to get to the se­cond level of the Jets de­fense for much of the af­ter­noon.

“Hon­estly with Ja­maal, it’s just try to get a hat on a hat and let him run his game,” Pack­ers right guard Lu­cas Pa­trick said. “I felt like we did that when we needed to. We had op­por­tu­ni­ties to run the ball early and late. He’s a hard run­ner and a fun guy to block for.”

But noth­ing spoke more vol­umes about the work Wil­liams and the of­fen­sive line were putting in than hav­ing Philbin and Rodgers give him the ball as they played catch-up from 15 points down in the fi­nal quar­ter.

“It’s some­thing I re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate,” Pack­ers l eft tackle David Bakhtiari said. “When you go into a game, at the end of the day, you’re putting a lot of stress on your quar­ter­back and your pro­tec­tion unit. I don’t say of­fen­sive line, I say pro­tec­tion unit as a whole. And the abil­ity for us to mix and match and keep them hon­est, that’s where you get gash­ers. That’s where they ’re like man, we’ve got to watch our­selves. That holds them back a lit­tle bit, es­pe­cially when you know you’re down by three (pos­ses­sions, in this case) and you gotta throw. I ap­pre­ci­ate it. Coach Philbin did a great job play call­ing, giv­ing us the abil­ity to mix and match and you see the pro­duc­tiv­ity out of it.”

GETTY IM­AGES

Run­ning back Ja­maal Wil­liams cel­e­brates his touch­down Sun­day. Wil­liams had plenty of touches in the fourth quar­ter when the Pack­ers ral­lied from a 15-point deficit.

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