MIKE O'HARA

O'HARA: Golladay ready for first Monday Night game

Posted Sep 14, 2017

Bright lights and one of the NFL’s biggest stages await Kenny Golladay in what has been a spectacular start to his NFL career.

Bright lights and one of the NFL’s biggest stages await Kenny Golladay in what has been a spectacular start to his NFL career.

The Detroit Lions’ rookie receiver is in the spotlight after two fourth-quarter touchdown catches in Sunday’s 35-23 comeback win over the Cardinals in the season-opener.

Next up for Golladay and the Lions is a road game against the New York Giants on Monday Night TV.

The way the NFL season progresses, the focus shifts quickly with scant time to celebrate a victory in one game before beginning preparations for the next.

Game 2 can be pivotal for the both teams. For the Lions, a victory would get them to 2-0 in what on paper was projected to be a tough early schedule. For the Giants, it is a bounce-back opportunity after a feeble offensive performance in a 19-3 loss to the Cowboys.

And for Golladay, as would be the case for any rookie thrust into the national spotlight so soon, it’s a chance to step out under the bright lights and not blink.

The way Golladay handled himself against the Cardinals – four catches for 69 yards, with the two fourth-quarter TDs – and in the aftermath of the game indicates that he’s not about to get star struck.

“It should be fun,” Golladay told a throng of reporters at his locker Monday afternoon. “Pretty much everybody will be watching. I think we’re the only game on (they are). It’ll be exciting. A lot of fun.”

Golladay spoke easily and smiled often in his interview session. He talked about the highs and lows of his rookie debut.

The game did not begin well for the Lions, or for Gollalday. On the second possession, he couldn’t come up with a deep sideline pass on third down.

“You can’t beat yourself up about a play,” Golladay said in his Monday self-review. “I had a rough first half. Probably a rough second half. I made some plays for this team.”

But he more than made up for that misplay with his two touchdown catches.

Although it could not have been expected to come so early, it was the kind of display the Lions hoped they’d get when they drafted Golladay in the third round out of Northern Illinois.

His physical traits – 6-4, 218 pounds, long arms and a 4.5-second time in the 40-yard dash – and college production projected him as a complement to veteran starters Golden Tate III and Marvin Jones Jr.

The first sign of what he could bring to the offense was when he caught two TD passes against the Colts in the first preseason game.

His performance against the Cardinals in a game that counted topped anything he did in the preseason. It exceeded all logical expectations, but did not surprise his teammates.

“Once he got going, he played phenomenal,” said Golden Tate, who had 10 catches for 107 yards.
“He’s a tough, smart, very talented guy.”

Golladay showed good recognition and versatility on his two TD catches.

The first was a 10-yard catch at a crucial time in the Lions’ comeback.

On the play, he lined up as the inside man in a formation with three receivers split left. Golladay made a cut to the left corner to catch a pass that Matthew Stafford feathered perfectly over Cardinals cornerback Justin Bethel.

That gave the Lions a 21-17 lead – their first of the game -- with 9:27 left.

On a 45-yard catch for the second TD, Golladay was split wide right. He got behind a defender to make a diving catch as he landed in the end zone. That made the lead 28-17, and the Lions won going away.

Golladay as asked how many people reached out to congratulate him on his performance.

“You know you’re going to get all the texts, all the highlights,” he said. “I’ve got to say my thank-yous.

“I’ve got to keep my head forward, keep it down, and get ready for the next week.”