Damien Williams Delivers Career-Best Performance as Starter Against Chargers

Dec 13, 2018; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs running back Damien Williams (26) is tackled by Los Angeles Chargers safety Derwin James (33) in the first half at Arrowhead Stadium.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — No would blame Damien Williams for feeling a bit bittersweet after the Chief's 29-28 loss the Chargers, especially since the fifth-year veteran scored two touchdowns for the second-straight game and added a career-high 123 yards from scrimmage Thursday night in his first career start with Kansas City.

“It means a lot,” Williams said. “The last time I scored probably was when I played the Raiders when I was with Miami. It means a lot being able to get into the end zone after an injury like the one I came off of. But it felt good.”

Williams appeared poised for the biggest moment of his career last season when the Dolphins traded Jay Ajayi to the Philadelphia Eagles and installed Williams as their starting running back. He made four starts with Miami before a dislocated shoulder ended his season. The injury required surgery, and the Dolphins allowed Williams to depart as a free agent in the offseason.

He signed as a free agent with the Chiefs, and beat out veteran Charcandrick West for the club's No. 3 running back role in training camp. The backup duty required patience early this season for Williams, who saw mostly work on special teams.

“I just love the game of football, so at the end of the day, as long as I'm involved however, I'm cool,” Williams said. “It feels better to be able to do what I want to do and that's play running back, be a part of the offense, but like I said, whatever they want me to do I'm all for it.”

That patience paid off the past two weeks. With Kareem Hunt gone, Williams stepped up to the No. 2 behind Spencer Ware. But when Ware exited last week's game with shoulder and hamstring injuries, Williams for 14 yards and added another 16 yards receiving while scoring two touchdowns.

Starting in Ware's absence Thursday night against the Chargers, Williams rattled off 49 yards rushing on carries with two scores, and he also added a career-high 74 yards receiving on six catches. He said the offensive's energy fueled him early in the game.

“A lot of times I'm looking at them from outside from the sidelines seeing how they operate,” Williams said. “Being able to get behind that line, in my first start as a Kansas City Chief, it was a great feeling the entire offensive energy, and I was able to feed off of that.”

Head coach Andy Reid thought Williams played well stepping in the starting role on a short week.

“Ran hard when he had the chance and caught the ball well,” Reid said. “I thought he played well.”

The Chiefs went with a Williams and Williams backfield Thursday night, with rookie Darrel Williams rushing for 13 yards on two carries and catching two passes for 19 yards, including an 11-yard touchdown toss from Patrick Mahomes. The quarterback thought both reserves made the most of their chance

“That’s how we’ve played the entire season, people step up when the opportunity comes,” Mahomes said, “and I thought Damien and Darrel both played really, really well when they got their chances and I’m sure that they’ll keep growing and moving forward in this offense as the season ends.”

Damien feels a kinship with Darrel. Both were undrafted free agents from big-name schools, Damien from Oklahoma and Darrel from LSU.

“It's a little chip you got to have on your shoulder,” Damien Williams said. “It's a little something extra you've got to have. He made sure every time he hand an opportunity he did something with it.”

Williams breaking off a career game in a loss hurts a bit, but he understands the Chiefs still have their goals within reach. Wins at Seattle and against Oakland in the next week give the Chiefs the AFC West title and home-field advantage in the playoffs. That means putting aside Thursday's game and moving forward.

“The game's over with, as soon as I leave the locker room it's on to the next game,” Williams said. “It's just staying positive.”