Titans Rematch Personal for Chiefs RB Damien Williams

Matt Derrick

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Damien Williams sat motionless in his locker the Chiefs game at Tennessee in Week 10. His team lost 35-32, and the Titans scored a key touchdown off his second-quarter fumble.

Williams was oblivious to the commotion around him as players, coaches and staff hustled to get ready to jump on the bus and head home. Teammates moved out of the showers and got dressed, Williams all the while sitting in his uniform staring straight ahead, a tear slowly falling down his cheek.

“You think about that fumble because they took that to the crib,” Williams said Thursday reflecting on that moment. “I'm a pride type of a person. I take that as that's on me. I could have done better, I should have done better.”

That's what makes Sunday's rematch in the AFC Championship game at Arrowhead Stadium and emotional one for Williams.

“The type of person I am, I can't have somebody beat up on me and then come to my house and think they're going to beat up on me again,” Williams said. “It's going to be one of those games where you know people are looking at them as the underdogs but I feel like we're the underdogs right now, they already got one up on us.”

Williams seems has thrived in the underdog role since his arrival in Kansas City. He arrived as a free agent in the 2018 offseason competing for a job. He played sparingly on offense until the release of Kareem Hunt and an injury to Spencer Ware left him atop the depth chart. 

The Chiefs sign enough to sign him to a two-year contract extension before the end of the regular season, and Williams then merged as a postseason star. He rushed for a career-high 129 yards against Indianapolis in the Divisional Round and followed that up with 96 yards from scrimmage and three scores in the AFC Championship against 

New England.

He picked up his playoff hot streak last week right where he left off, finding the end zone three more times against Houston. The man with 22 regular-season touchdowns in 85 games owns eight touchdowns in just four postseason contests.

Williams says it's once again his pride that fuels him on the big stage.

“This could be your last run, this could be your last play and you want to go at it as such,” Williams said. “I'm going hard every single play whether it's a play fake or not, I'm going to be the best actor you've ever seen, acting like I have the ball. 

“These big moments, you can't shy away from them.”

The 2019 season has been filled with highs and lows for Williams. A hamstring injury slowed him during training camp, then a knee injury cost him two games early in the season. LeSean McCoy and Darrel Williams then took larger roles in the offense, and a rib injury put Williams on the sidelines for three weeks.

Williams says he feels great now, thanks to working through his rehab and staying in his playbook.

“People don't really look at what you're doing off the field and behind the cameras,” Williams explained, “how hard I'm really working and what I'm doing to get back on the field and being mentally tough and strong to stay into it and keep up on the plays so when I do come back I can still stay in rhythm, I'm in rhythm with the offensive line and everything just flows.

Williams feels better prepared both in his second conference title game and in the rematch against the Titans. He vows not to let Tennessee benefit from a mistake this time.

“They like to punch at the ball, they like to grab at the ball,” he said. “Knowing that when you're running between the tackles have two hands on it. But at the end of the days that's not going to stop me from feeling comfortable and running.”

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