Allen Park — The touchdown was the offense’s punctuation mark in the 35-23 victory over the Arizona Cardinals last Sunday, but Lions offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter was far from confident with his play call on the 45-yard bomb from quarterback Matthew Stafford to rookie Kenny Golladay.
“Quite frankly, that schematic pass play versus that defense is not very good,” Cooter said. “I was sort of thinking we might not have a great play going here, I may have actually said that out loud. But I mean, the guy’s going to make plays and that’s a really good thing.”
The Cardinals were in man coverage on the play, with a single-high safety, 11-year veteran Antoine Bethea, to take away any deep targets. Golladay was the only Lions receiver to run a deep route on the play, and Bethea should have been able to help, but he was frozen in the middle of the field thanks to Stafford’s head movement and footwork. Prior to launching the deep ball, Stafford kept his eyes focused to the left side of the field and stepped up to his left in the pocket.
Cooter also credited the protection provided by the offensive line.
“I’m sure that affected the safety,” Cooter said. “That particular safety is a veteran guy, really intelligent guy. He’s going to read quarterbacks eyes, he’s going to move a little bit when the quarterback looks one direction or the other. It was a really good pocket, which allowed Stafford to sort of do some of those things.”
The touchdown put the Lions up 28-17 and safety Miles Killebrew put the game on ice the ensuing series when he intercepted a deflected pass and returned it 35 yards for the touchdown.