The Detroit Lions running back didn't learn he would be active for Thursday night's game at Lambeau Field until the day before.
“You could just see the look in his eyes,” said Lions coach Dan Campbell. “He just looked ready to go.”
After missing Sunday’s win versus the Atlanta Falcons with a thigh injury, he made the most of his opportunity, becoming the first player in franchise history to rush for three touchdowns at Green Bay.
“I can tell my son that I beat the Packers,” said Montgomery, who's in his first year with the Lions, following Detroit's 34-20 victory. “So, I’m excited to say that and excited to be a part of this team, really.”
The win also marked another personal milestone for Montgomery: It was the first time the former Chicago Bears back had beaten the Packers in his four-year career. Montgomery had been 0-7 against Green Bay, but he noted that this time “just felt different” with the Lions. He was willing to push through any injury to be there for his guys.
“Detroit is a gritty place and I come from that,” said Montgomery. “So, I was born in that, and I’m used to that, so I know what it looks like and what it feels like. So, for me, it’s more of like a personal thing. I feel like I’m leaving my guys short if I’m not out there with them when I know I can be out there.”
From start to finish, Montgomery imposed his will on the defense, punishing Green Bay on 32 carries for 121 rushing yards and two receptions for 20 yards. His rush TD with 6:03 remaining in the fourth quarter helped seal the victory after the Packers pulled to within 10 points.
“He’s a beast,” said Lions receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown. “Just hand him the ball, you see what he does.”
It was also his third career game with at least 100 rushing yards at Lambeau Field, with the first two coming as a member of the Bears.
NFL legends Walter Payton (6), Adrian Peterson (4) and Barry Sanders (4) are the only players with more 100-yard rushing games as a visitor at Lambeau, but Montgomery is the only player to accomplish the feat with two different teams.
Lions quarterback Jared Goff called Montgomery “the engine" against the Packers as he appeared to run stronger as the game progressed.
Detroit (3-1) is now the only team in the NFC North with a winning record through Week 4. Montgomery’s bruising running style has been a big reason why.
Montgomery’s five rushing touchdowns are tied for the most of any player in their first three games with a new team in NFL history.
“I think he [David Montgomery] gets better throughout the game. He gets better the more he gets hit, the more he’s able to see the holes and see what’s going on,” Goff said. “There were two types of run lengths, there were runs where the lanes were wide open, and he was running right through them and he was doing his thing, and there were runs where there wasn’t much there and he made something out of nothing. That’s when you know your guys in the zone, and you just keep trying to feed him. He did his thing tonight.”