Arlington, Texas — Golden Tate has a propensity for theatrics, but Detroit Lions coach Matt Patricia would like his receiver to dial it back a bit — or at least wait until he scores before celebrating.
Tate showboated not once but twice on long touchdown receptions during Detroit's 26-24 loss to Dallas on Sunday, earning him a talking to from his coach.
Late in the first quarter, Tate caught a third-down pass when the defensive back in coverage stumbled. Tate turned up field, and after juking past the safety, began high-stepping the final 15 yards to the end zone, holding the ball out behind him before slowing down and walking the final step across the goal line backwards.
As Tate continued to celebrate on the sideline, Patrica could be seen pulling him in for a hug, while delivering a private message to his receiver not to do that again.
"I gotta fix it," Tate said. "At the end of the day, I'm having fun, but I got to put the team first. Because if I fumble that ball and it goes out the back of the end zone, or something happens and the ball goes out of bounds and we don't score, then I feel like a (expletive).
"Obviously a lot of things can happen — a lot of bad things can happen. So he says just to celebrate once you get into the end zone."
Unfortunately, the message went in one ear and out the other. When Tate hauled in a go-ahead touchdown late in the fourth quarter, he again held the ball out before crossing the goal line, taunting a Cowboys defensive back.
"Yeah, you know, just a selfish play on my part," Tate said. "I let my emotions get way too involved in that game at the end, and kind of forgot what (Patricia) said. So I'm sure he's going to coach me, and (offensive coordinator) Jim Bob (Cooter's) going to coach me, and my position coach is going to coach me. So, just have to be better next time."
Good luck with that. Tate isn't nicknamed "Showtime" for nothing.
And it's not like this is new behavior. One of the team's more iconic moments from recent years saw Tate risking both injury and ball security when he hurled his body across the goal line for the winning touchdown, in overtime, against the Minnesota Vikings.
Former Lions coach Jim Caldwell, who embraced his players having personality and choreographed end-zone celebrations, wasn't fond of that one.
"I certainly would rather have him do something else, like cross it the normal way with the ball tucked underneath your arm, nice and tight," Caldwell said during a radio interview shortly after that game. "But Golden is Golden. He’s going to have a little flair. But we’ll be able to make an example of that because if that ball, obviously, gets knocked out, then we’re all singing a little different tune."
Tate finished the game against Dallas with eight catches on eight targets for 132 yards and the two scores. In the final year of his contract with the Lions, he leads the team with 28 receptions for 389 yards and three touchdowns.