'He runs so angry': Damien Williams' hard-charging style fires up Chiefs in Super Bowl
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – Damien Williams didn't follow a traditional path to his starring role in Super Bowl LIV. So it probably shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that his game-sealing, 38-yard touchdown run for the Kansas City Chiefs occurred when he improvised on a broken play.
With 80 seconds left in the game and K.C. looking to milk the clock in order to protect a 24-20 lead, fullback Anthony Sherman got into Williams' ear during a timeout. The rest is history.
"Honestly, it was funny because Sherm came in the game and he was like, 'Hey, follow me,'" said Williams. "That's exactly what I did, I followed him. The run was supposed to go inside. He went outside, so I went outside. I said, 'Forget it, I'm taking it to the house.'"
Game, set, match. Lombardi.
It was a fitting exclamation point for Williams, an undrafted player who originally toiled on this same Hard Rock Stadium field for the Miami Dolphins for four years. But he joined the Chiefs last season and was thrust into a leading role after the team cut troubled starter Kareem Hunt late in the season.
Still, Williams never stopped feeling the urge to continuously prove himself.
"I got into the league undrafted, I had to fight my way in. And coming here, the organization told me, 'We like you, but you're going to have to work to make this team.' Hearing that, and always just hearing the doubt," he said, "yeah, that's why I bring a lot of attitude to this game."
But it's a mindset his teammates obviously value, never more so than Sunday night against an elite San Francisco 49ers defense.
"D-Will ran the ball like a monster. They've been counting him out since Day 1," said Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones. "They couldn't stop him."
Indeed. Williams also scored the go-ahead TD with 2:44 to go on a 5-yard pass from Patrick Mahomes, just barely getting into the end zone.
"He came in with his hair on fire. For an O-lineman, there is nothing better than blocking for a guy like that. He brought it today," said left tackle Eric Fisher. "He was running people over, and it was fun to watch."
Added safety Tyrann Mathieu: "He runs so angry, he gives our offense its edge. I think a lot of people don't realize it until he gets the ball in his hands. We believe in him a lot. He's the attitude of the offense."
Williams finished with 133 total yards, 104 coming on the ground. Sherman, his good friend (and hype man) was hardly surprised.
"I had talked to him before the game, and I knew in his heart that he was going to bring it tonight," said Sherman. "And you could tell from the very first run that he wasn't going out of bounds. He was going at these guys and downhill and let his presence (be felt) all night.
"We needed that, and he did a great job."
Prior to the game, Williams spent time looking in the mirror, visualizing what he would do while going over Andy Reid's offensive script. He also gleaned fuel from what he perceived as the media slighting him while instead focusing on the Niners' prolific postseason ground assault.
"You try not to pay attention to the media and everything, but this is the only game on TV," said Williams, who now owns a Chiefs career playoff record 10 touchdowns.
"It's kind of hard to ignore what they're talking about media-wise. And just being able to hear them talk about the 49ers as an offense and that run game – they're a great team. I'm not taking anything from them.
"(But) to not hear your name or anything ... I pay attention."
And in a game Kansas City trailed by 10 after three quarters, he also knew every last bit of effort could make the difference.
"Every yard counts," said Williams. "In a game like this, you need every single inch."
Now all he needs is for the reality that he's a Super Bowl champion to wash over him.
"You dream of this moment," said Williams. "It doesn't feel real yet, it hasn't sunk in. It's exciting, I'm happy."
But maybe still a little angry, too.
Follow USA TODAY Sports' Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis