The Lions are scoring and allowing points at a historic rate, with the league’s top offense and worst defense through four games.
While tight end T.J. Hockenson hadn’t been involved much in the team’s first three contests, receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown and running back D'Andre Swift were both out for Week Four due to injury. So, Hockenson stepped up.
Hockenson caught eight passes for 179 yards with two touchdowns in Detroit’s wild 48-45 loss to Seattle. Hockenson broke a longstanding franchise record for receiving yards by a tight end in a single game, besting Jim Gibbons’ 161 yards set in 1964.
“Going into the week, I knew it was going to be a fun one,” Hockenson said postgame, via Kyle Meinke of MLive.com. “We knew somebody was going to have to put the team on [his shoulders] and make sure the ball was moving. So that was kind of my goal just coming into this game, keep the ball moving, make plays when they’re called. I was able to do that for sure.”
Hockenson had a 32-yard touchdown in the first quarter to open Detroit’s scoring. He had an 81-yard reception, which saw him rumbling down the field. He caught a 4-yard touchdown midway through the fourth quarter that put the Lions down by three points.
The tight end now leads Detroit with 261 yards and is tied for the team lead with three touchdowns in the young season.
“I think you could see him kind of catch a rhythm,” quarterback Jared Goff said. “He started breaking some tackles, started being extremely decisive on his routes, extremely separating well, and doing a lot of good things. And that’s just who he is. He’s a rhythm player, and getting him in that rhythm is important for us. We needed to do that, and you can see how dangerous he is catching a shallow and taking it 80 yards.
“But, yeah. He is a hell of a player, and we need to keep him involved.”
No matter who Goff is targeting through four weeks, it seems to be working. But Detroit’s defense has to do a better job of getting stops so the prolific offensive performances start turning into wins.