Detroit — Ever since Taylor Decker first stepped on a football field in first grade, he’s been pigeonholed as an offensive lineman. That’s where the biggest kids almost always end up.
That has worked out pretty well for the Detroit Lions left tackle, who starred at Ohio State before being selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. But it’s also robbed him of what every young football player dreams about growing up, making plays and scoring touchdowns.
That changed on Sunday.
In a bright spot in an otherwise dismal day for the Lions, a 30-16 loss to the Los Angeles Rams, Decker got his moment in the sun, catching an 11-yard touchdown in the third quarter.
The Lions had been rotating in an extra offensive lineman all afternoon between rookie Tyrell Crosby and guard Joe Dahl. And in those substitutions, the two players were often eligible receivers. But when Crosby came in for the first-and-10 play at the Rams 11, the officials announced it was No. 68 (Decker), not No. 65 (Crosby), who was the eligible receiver.
The Rams didn’t seem to catch the announcement as Decker quickly feigned a quick block before leaking open in the flat. Quarterback Matthew Stafford connected on the short throw and the 6-foot-7, 311-pounder rumbled 10 yards untouched into the end zone for the score.
“It was pretty cool,” Decker said after the game. “You know, obviously we didn’t get the result we wanted in the game. But you know, that’s my first ever touchdown and I’ve played football since first grade, always been an O-lineman, so for my first touchdown to come as a left tackle in the NFL is pretty damn cool.”
Caught up in the heat of the moment, Decker launched the ball into the stands, a decision he admitted regretting since it cost him the memento from the unique moment.
Perhaps even more excited than Decker was Crosby, who had brought the play call in from the sideline and wildly celebrated the score, jumping around like a kid who had just opened a coveted gift on Christmas morning.
“Everybody needs to get a hype man like that,” Decker said.
Decker said the play call was installed this week. The coaching staff told him during a breakfast at the facility they were adding a wrinkle in the offense designed just for him. He immediately knew he’d have a chance to score.
"I literally said, ‘I’m going to score a touchdown, ain’t I?’' Decker said.
The Lions ran the play in practice just once, but it suddenly made a more sense why the team had all the offensive linemen working on catching passes during the portion of Friday’s practice that was open to the media.
“That was (offensive coordinator) Jim Bob (Cooter) this week,” Stafford said. “I thought it was a great add. Situation was perfect, to tell you the truth, to call it and it worked. … Decker and I got a couple throws on the side, but he’s a big target. So I was happy for him, happy for those guys. Always good to watch a big guy score, man, they enjoy it.”
Lions honor late president
The Lions honored George H.W. Bush with a moment of silence before the game. The 41st president passed away on Friday. He was 94.
During a 2016 game between the Lions and Houston Texans, Bush served as an honorary captain and conducted the pregame coin toss.
The Lions lost linebacker Devon Kennard to a hip injury in the first half. While never officially ruled out from returning to the game, he was replaced in the lineup by Eli Harold.