Detroit — Lions coach Matt Patricia has a rule.
Patricia on Sunday explained that if a trick play drawn up by offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell doesn’t work the first time it is ran in practice, it is out of consideration for good.
Last week in practice, they gave one a shot. The ball changed hands in the backfield twice before eventually being launched downfield to Kenny Golladay.
“They all started yelling, ‘First play,’” Patricia said. “I said, ‘I don’t think so.’”
It would take some convincing to get Patricia on-board with running the play in a game, but the Lions’ offense already had some credibility to its name. Detroit ran a flea-flicker on its first play from scrimmage in the Week 6 loss at Green Bay, a 66-yard completion to Golladay.
“As the week went, we talked about it, and felt good enough about it where we had a specifics spot, specific time that we wanted to take a shot at it,” Patricia said.
That moment came early in the fourth quarter of Detroit’s 31-26 win over the New York Giants at Ford Field.
Stafford took the snap from under center, pitched it to running back J.D. McKissic on his right, and reversed field to McKissic’s left. The former Seattle rusher threw a self-proclaimed “dime” back to his quarterback, who then loaded up and found Golladay for a 41-yard touchdown pass that’d result in the game’s winning score with 12:12 remaining.
“We let it rip, and it was great execution,” Patricia said. “I’m just glad it worked in a game.”
And Stafford is glad to have an offensive coordinator who is willing to open things up and let his guys make a play.
“I just like that (Bevell) is willing to try those things, put it in if we execute them and if they look good," Stafford said. "He has the confidence to go out there just like any other play and call it during the game.”
As a coordinator in Seattle, Bevell ran the same exact play against the Giants in 2017, McKissic’s second year with the Seahawks. McKissic had two jobs on the play: Sell the run fake and make the pass.
“I just had to sell it. It’s kind of a feeling, how much room I have,” McKissic said. “The main thing is to get it back to Staff. If he has pressure, somebody finally realizes what we’re doing and covers him, then I’d have to keep it.”
Despite only getting in a single rep during practice, McKissic said he was looking forward to running the play in a game — though it required some extra preparation.
“I got my one throw, we believed in it, and we got it done,” McKissic said. “I warmed up well though before.”
McKissic sold it to perfection, as did Golladay. He lined up in the slot to Stafford’s right, and once McKissic got the safety to shoot, “just took off.”
“I knew I was (open),” Golladay said. “When the safety came, I knew I just had to beat (Giants cornerback Antoine Bethea). I already had the angle on him and I just kept it high and Staff just put a ball up there for me.”
Nolan Bianchi is a freelance writer.