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Alabama in the Pros

Former Alabama stars punch Detroit Lions into NFC Championship Game

Detroit Lions running back Jahmyr Gibbs (#26) runs against Tampa Bay's defense in NFC Divisional Playoff Game.
Junfu Han - Detroit Free Press/USA Today Sports

The city of Detroit (Mich.) is in a state of euphoria. 

All it took was the Lions drafting University of Alabama players and hiring a Crimson Tide alum as a defensive coach to position it for an opportunity at a Super Bowl appearance. Dan Campbell and Detroit are one win away from reaching the ultimate stage in the National Football League. Jahmyr Gibbs and Brian Branch, two former stars for Alabama, propelled the team to a 31-23 victory on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at Ford Field. Gibbs, a running back, recorded another 100+ yard performance from scrimmage. He showed all his tools as a runner, receiver, and pass blocker.

RELATED: Jahmyr Gibbs compared to Deebo Samuel, according to an NFL writer

The native Georgian had 74 yards rushing, 40 yards receiving, and a touchdown on 13 touches.

Gibbs averaged 8.2 yards per carry, 10 yards per reception, and had a few plays where he took on blitzing linebackers to give Jared Goff time to throw the football. Gibbs’ protection allowed Goff to have a pair of touchdown passes. He has over 1,000 yards from scrimmage as a rookie (1,443), but Gibbs also has 1,044 yards rushing. He has 11 total touchdowns on the campaign.

Branch, a defensive back, feasted on Tampa Bay’s offense. He led the defense for total tackles (nine) and posted a sack, two tackles for loss, and a quarterback hit. Branch, a second round selection in the 2023 NFL Draft, served in different roles for Alabama’s secondary. He was arguably the Crimson Tide’s best player in 2022, pushing it to an Allstate Sugar Bowl victory.

Jameson Williams, a former Tide wide receiver, had two catches for 35 yards — including a 24-yard reception for a first down.

He needed one season (2021) at Alabama to show NFL scouts how special he was. Williams collected 79 passes for 1,572 yards and 15 touchdowns, pacing the Tide’s offense to an SEC Championship and advance it into the College Football Playoff National Championship Game. He, Branch and Gibbs have been incredible for the Lions, and they are closing in on a Super Bowl shot.

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Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @CoachingMSmith.

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Stephen Smith is a 2015 graduate of the University of Alabama. He is a senior writer and reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. He has covered Alabama football for 10+ years and his knowledge and coverage of the Crimson Tide's program have made him among the most respected journalist in his field. Smith has been featured on ESPN and several other marquee outlets as an analyst.

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