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Super Bowl LIV a chance for Chiefs' unheralded Damien Williams to shine

Kansas City Chiefs running back Damien Williams on

Kansas City Chiefs running back Damien Williams on Jan. 28, 2020, in Aventura, Fla., during Super Bowl LIV week. Credit: AP/Brynn Anderson

AVENTURA, Fla. — Damien Williams had just scored three touchdowns to help the Chiefs erase a 24-0 first-half deficit in a 51-31 win over the Texans in the divisional round of the AFC playoffs. When it came time to hand out game balls, Patrick Mahomes got one and Travis Kelce got one.

You can’t argue with that — Kelce caught three of Mahomes’ five touchdown passes. But what about Williams?

“Kelce turned back at me and laughed, like, ‘Ha, ha, you didn’t do enough.’ And I had three touchdowns,” Williams said. “But I was like, you know what, you’re right. It’s a level of competition that we have on our offense, and that’s why we’re so explosive.”

It also sums up Williams’ career. Even though the sixth-year pro will be the Chiefs’ starting running back in Super Bowl LIV, he flies under the radar.

“I don’t think he gets enough credit for what he does in this offense, in this league,” Kelce said. “He’s one of those glue guys that makes this thing go — whether it’s running the ball or making a block. Anything. Anything you literally ask this man to do, he’s willing to do it and he has the skill set to be able to perform it. He’s been one my favorite teammates since he got here.”

Williams got to Kansas City after spending four years with the Dolphins. Undrafted out of Oklahoma, he played for Adam Gase for two years. Those were Williams’ two most productive seasons in a Dolphins uniform.

It didn’t end well between Gase and Williams, though. Miami wanted him back, but after he had surgery following the 2017 season, Gase stopped taking his calls. They haven’t spoken since. The Jets coach recently told NFL.com that he regrets how things ended and that he hopes to speak with him after the Super Bowl.

It’s worked out well for Williams, who credits Gase for helping him become a more well-rounded player.

“I had a great experience with Adam,” Williams said. “I feel like he’s kind of the reason I’m here as far as opening me up as a football player, being able to catch the ball out of the backfield. My year with him, I scored my most touchdowns any year being with the Dolphins. I had a great experience.”

His experience with the Chiefs has been even better.  When Williams signed with Kansas City, he knew he would back up former rushing champ Kareem Hunt and play on special teams.  But late last season, Hunt was waived by the Chiefs after video surfaced of him shoving and then kicking a woman.

Williams became the Chiefs’ top back. He scored eight touchdowns in his last five games, including the playoffs. This season, he led the Chiefs with 498 rushing yards and had seven total touchdowns in the regular season. He has 159 scrimmage yards and four TDs in these playoffs.

Now he’s in the Super Bowl.

“You want to be consistent,” Williams said. “Whenever you’re up and down, that’s when you have a rough patch. In the playoffs, every play counts. It’s a moment you can’t get back. It’s one game. There’s no game after that. I feel that pressure makes me bring it to a different level.”

Williams has one more game this season to prove himself. But if he continues to perform the way he has, he won’t fly under the radar much longer. He might even get a game ball this time.

“It’s something that I’ve been dreaming of since I was a little kid, being the starting guy on a Super Bowl team,” he said. “This is what you practice in the backyard with all your friends as a little kid growing up .  .  .   

“It’s something I’m really soaking in and trying not to let overwhelm me. It’s something that doesn’t happen often. You want to hold it in, don’t peak too soon. Sunday night, you got to let it all out.”

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