Quick reads: Golladay and Tavai shine, special teams stumble
Nolan Bianchi of The Detroit News has three quick reads on the Lions’ 13-10 win over the Chargers on Sunday:
Keep on keepin' on
The Lions' offense on Sunday again looked different than most probably pictured heading into the season. Kerryon Johnson was limited to just 41 yards on 12 carries, though rookie back Ty Johnson looked nice in limited action, picking up 30 on five attempts.
But again, Detroit buttered its bread through the passing game. Matthew Stafford threw his first two picks of the season, both straight-up poor decisions, but was otherwise solid, going 22-for-30 for 245 yards and two touchdowns. His favorite target was third-year receiver Kenny Golladay, who has thus far made good on the buzz surrounding his name as a potential breakout candidate. He racked up 117 yards receiving on eight catches, none more important than the difficult grab he made late in the fourth that would eventually stand as the winning score. Johnson also made a terrific play to break free on a screen pass in the first quarter for a 36-yard touchdown reception.
On defense, rookie linebacker Jahlani Tavai was impressive again. He forced a fumble on the goal line that kept Los Angeles from taking a two-score lead early in the second half and trailed only second-year safety Tracy Walker (10) in tackles with nine.
Not too special
The Lions' special teams unit did not have a good day in the Week 1 tie against Arizona.
It looked just as bad, if not worse, on Sunday.
The Lions took holding penalties on both of its first two punt returns; the latter was offset by a penalty on the Chargers, which was good news for former All-Pro returner Jamal Agnew, who was stripped on the play. The play didn't count, but it did cost Agnew his job in the return game, as the three-year veteran was replaced on punt returns by Danny Amendola. The Lions gained just a combined 17 yards on four punt returns.
Bucking some positive trends
Speaking of trends that carried over from Week 1, the play of Darius Slay did not. The veteran Pro-Bowler gave up just one 4-yard reception against Arizona but was picked on relentlessly by Philip Rivers and Pro Bowl receiver Keenan Allen. Slay took three penalties and was targeted on 13 occasions, as Allen hauled in eight passes for 98 yards. Still, the only play that wound up mattering was the last: Slay picked off a throw to Allen in the end zone on third-and-19 to ice the game for Detroit.
On the other side of the ball, let's talk about T.J. Hockenson. The first-year tight end out of Iowa in Week 1 set a record for total yardage by a rookie in his NFL debut at the position, and with his hype train speeding away from the station, caught just one pass for 7 yards in Sunday's win over Los Angeles. There's no big-picture context for that stat; Detroit simply wasn't running much of the two-tight end sets that sprung the 6-foot-5 pass catcher free on several occasions last week. Still, a good reminder that we should probably corral those expectations.
Matt Prater also missed a 40-yard field goal and an extra-point attempt.