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Former Alabama star players give valiant effort for Lions despite NFC Championship loss to 49ers

Detroit Lions RB Jahmyr Gibbs (#26) runs for a touchdown in NFC Championship Game versus 49ers.
Junfu Han - Detroit Free Press/USA Today Sports

A trio of University of Alabama alums gave their all for the Detroit Lions in Sunday’s NFC Championship Game against the San Francisco 49ers in a losing effort.

Jahmyr Gibbs, Jameson Williams, and Brian Branch pushed the Lions to an NFC North Division title for the first time since 1993, when it was called the NFC Central. The trio helped Detroit get to the conference championship game before suffering a 31-34 heartbreaking loss to the 49ers. Gibbs, a running back, had 45 rushing yards and a touchdown on 12 carries.

He also caught three passes for 11 yards. Gibbs ended his rookie season by becoming the Offensive Rookie of the Year in the National Football League and making the All-Rookie Team from the Professional Football Writers Association. Williams, a wide receiver, electrified the Lions’ crowd with a 42-yard end-around run for a touchdown. He showcased his elite explosiveness on the run, giving Detroit an early 7-0 lead in the first quarter. Williams also totaled two receptions, including one for a touchdown.

Branch, a defensive back, finished with four total tackles, including a tackle for loss.

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All three players are hurting that the Lions will not reach the Super Bowl; however, they are proud of the accomplishment of taking a once laughed at franchise on a deep playoff run. Gibbs, Williams, Branch, and Shaun Dion Hamilton (defensive assistant coach) will be back again.

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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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