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How it happened: Travis Williams' 314 combined net yards

Green Bay speedster scored TDs three different ways to fuel comeback victory

Former Packers RB Travis Williams
Former Packers RB Travis Williams

Resuming a series that began last summer, is taking a look back at some of the team's single-game records and how the individual set the mark. The series continues with Travis Williams' 314 combined net yards on Nov. 2, 1969.

GREEN BAY – It started as a rather nondescript day for Travis Williams before becoming anything but.

A fourth-round draft pick at running back in 1967, Williams showed his speed right away as a rookie, returning four kickoffs for touchdowns, a single-season team record that still stands. He had two in one game against the Browns that year, another record that remains.

But in his rather brief four-year career with the Packers, Williams would return only one more kickoff for a score after his rookie season, and he made it count as part of another record-breaking day.

Facing the Steelers at Pitt Stadium in 1969, the Packers trailed 10-0 after one quarter, and Williams had just 26 all-purpose yards, on a kickoff return. Early in the second quarter, he took a handoff and gained a yard. Shortly thereafter, he took another handoff and lost a yard, but the play was nullified by a Pittsburgh penalty, and the Packers scored two plays later to get within 10-7.

Then the game got a little crazy.

After a three-and-out, the Steelers punted and Williams ran it back 83 yards for a touchdown, giving the Packers the lead. Pittsburgh responded with a TD drive. Williams returned the ensuing kickoff 24 yards, giving him 134 all-purpose yards, but Green Bay's drive would end with an interception, and then each team would throw another interception before the half would end with the Steelers ahead, 17-14.

Another turnover by Packers QB Don Horn early in the third quarter led to a Pittsburgh TD and 24-14 advantage, but Williams got Green Bay back in it again by returning the kickoff all the way, 96 yards, to make it 24-21. It was Williams' fifth career kickoff return for a score, two more than anyone else in the history of the franchise before or since.

At that point, Williams was at 230 combined net yards, closing in on his personal best of 253 (which came against, coincidentally, Pittsburgh in his rookie year of 1967) and not far behind the franchise mark of 257, set by Billy Howton in 1956.

The Packers kicked a field goal to tie the score by the end of the third quarter, and then Williams' third TD of the game gave Green Bay the lead early in the fourth. Williams scored on a 1-yard rush after consecutive big plays in the passing game by Bart Starr, a 51-yard screen pass to Donny Anderson and a 26-yard completion to Carroll Dale.

But Pittsburgh again would answer with a 53-yard TD pass and a field goal to go up 34-31 with 10 minutes left, and Williams wasn't done.

After an 18-yard kickoff return, he hauled in a 19-yard pass from Starr on third-and-26, but fumbled the ball. Teammate Marv Fleming recovered, short of the first down, and the Packers punted.

Following a Steelers three-and-out, Williams took a handoff for 31 yards and then, on the next snap, Starr found Dale for a 43-yard TD to make it 38-34 (did we say this game was a little crazy?).

Just under five minutes remained with the Packers leading, 38-34, and Williams had easily surpassed Howton for the combined net yardage record. He had 299 – one measly yard away from the first (and still only) all-purpose 300-yard game in team history.

The Steelers went three-and-out again deep in their own territory, and on two of the next three plays, Williams got the ball, running for 2 yards and then 13 on third-and-3 just after the two-minute warning to effectively seal the victory.

Williams' final numbers – one punt return for 83 yards and a TD; four kickoff returns for 164 yards, including a 96-yard TD, five rushes for 48 yards and a TD; and one reception for 19 yards – 314 yards in all.

The mark has been legitimately threatened only once, by receiver Walter Stanley, who racked up 287 combined net yards on Thanksgiving at Detroit in 1986.

In that game, Stanley had four receptions for 124 yards, including two TDs of 21 and 36 yards from Randy Wright; three kickoff returns for 50 yards; and two punt returns for 113 yards, including an 83-yarder for the game-winning touchdown, which he punctuated with a back flip in the Pontiac Silverdome end zone, to highlight a 44-40 Packers triumph.

That game was obviously a little crazy, too.