Lions’ Golladay caps debut with fourth-quarter flourish

Sports Xchange

September 10, 2017 at 7:39 pm.

DETROIT — Kenny Golladay didn’t make much of an impact in his NFL debut through the first three quarters.

The Detroit Lions rookie wide receiver was targeted five times, but caught just two short passes.

The last two times that quarterback Matthew Stafford looked his way, Golladay showed why the Lions thought enough of the Northern Illinois product to grab him in the third round.

Golladay caught two touchdown passes, including the go-ahead score with 9:27 remaining, in the Lions’ 35-23 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday at Ford Field.

The Lions were looking for a difference-maker in their receiving corps to take some pressure off Golden Tate and Marvin Jones. Veteran Anquan Boldin caught a team-high eight touchdown passes last season, but the Lions were unable to re-sign him. Boldin eventually joined Buffalo, then abruptly retired during training camp.

The Lions aren’t complaining about how everything worked out.

Golladay not only showed his talent but his resiliency. He didn’t let his quiet start shake his confidence.

“Yeah, I mean, we preach pretty much just play a full game,” he said. “So, I know for me there’s going to be a lot of corrections for that first half, and second half, and it was just a good team win. Way to come back and finish it out strong.”

Golladay burned Arizona cornerback Justin Bethel on both scoring plays. The first was a 10-yard grab to put the Lions on top 21-17.

“At that point, I needed it,” he said. “I felt like I needed to make a play and I was just happy enough. Matt threw a great ball, I just had to go get it and, you know, the rest is history.”

The 6-foot-4 Golladay then put his athletic skills on full display to give his club some breathing room. He extended his body to make a leaping grab, then rolled into the end zone on a 45-yard play with 4:22 left.

“Matt just gave me a shot and just let my skills do the rest, pretty much,” he said. “Just left my feet, used all hands and made a nice catch.”

Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians said they were well aware of Golladay coming into the game. He had two touchdown catches in his preseason debut as well.

“The guy made some nice catches,” Arians said. “We knew coming in he was a solid threat. We handled him pretty much until the last play.”