The Lions didn’t put the Browns away until late in the game, when quarterback Matthew Stafford connected on a 40-yard touchdown pass to Golden Tate. The play, as Tate described it, came together at the line.
The Browns showed an aggressive defensive look, putting eight men along the line of scrimmage. That led to Stafford calling a screen pass to Tate, who was lined up on the right in a three-receiver set to that side.
“We actually had another play on, but we knew they were going to Cover-0 blitz, so Matthew made an incredible call,” Tate said. “It’s something we hadn’t really practiced this week, but we were all on the same page. T.J. (Jones) made a heck of a block, Marvin (Jones) made a heck of a block and I had two linemen coming out to cover whoever else. It just opened up like the Red Sea and next thing you know, I’m on my way to the end zone.”
The Lions were on the negative side of an audible gone wrong, two weeks ago at Ford Field, when Stafford checked to a run and Tate missed the change. This one worked to perfection because everyone was on the same page.
It’s been a less-than-ideal season for tight end Eric Ebron, but he seems to have turned a corner after the team’s bye. The revitalization started late in the game against Pittsburgh, when his 44-yard catch-and-run grab in the fourth quarter put the Lions in position to take a late lead in that game. He carried the momentum to Green Bay, where he caught all three passes his direction.
But after struggling with drops throughout the campaign, Lions fans understandably held their breath as Stafford lofted a deep throw down the sideline to Ebron, which felt like it hung in the air a few extra seconds. But the wide-open tight end did his job, hauling in the throw and taking four strides into the end zone for a 29-yard game-winning touchdown.
The home crowd, which has booed Ebron multiple times this season, roared with approval. This is the impact the Lions expected to start the year, and if he can deliver down the stretch, it will be critical to the team’s playoff push.
The last time Corey Robinson played guard he was a junior in high school. That was nine years ago, but with T.J. Lang out with a concussion, the Lions unexpectedly thrust Robinson into the starting lineup at right guard.
That’s a heck of a way to make your reason debut. Robinson missed the first nine weeks, as well as the entire preseason, with a foot injury.
“Any time I can do something different and just go out and help this team, that’s a great time,” he said.
It’s difficult to accurately evaluate an offensive lineman’s performance immediately after a game, but Robinson certainly wasn’t a disaster, which is good enough given the challenge.
“It’s more direct, you have to be a little bit more accurate (with your footwork),” Robinson said. “It’s a little different spacing and everything like that, but coaches do a great job making sure we know what everybody is doing.”
It’s easy to get caught up in the emotion of a football game. With only 16, they all mean so much, and it’s easy to overreact to each win and loss. But it’s just a game, it’s just entertainment, and sometimes we need that reminder.
During the Lions’ postgame news conferences, Ian Haezebrouck, 5, sat in the front row with his family. He’s battling cancer.
After Tate, Stafford and coach Jim Caldwell finished their media obligations, each took a few minutes to chat with Haezebrouck, a passionate fan who got a pregame sideline tour and cheered the team on to victory from a suite.
Haezebrouck recently received treatment in Chicago and he made certain to let all the nurses and doctors know his loyalties were to the Lions, not the hometown Bears.