GLENDALE, Ariz. – It was a debut to remember for rookie tight end T.J. Hockenson, one that put him in the NFL record books.
Hockenson, the No. 8 overall pick, caught six passes for 131 yards and a touchdown in Detroit's 27-27 tie in Arizona Sunday.
He is only the second player in franchise history to top 100 yards in his debut, joining wide receiver Earl McCullough, who had 132 yards in his debut at Dallas on Sept. 15, 1968.
He also set an NFL record for receiving yards (131) by a tight end in his first game. The previous record was 123 yards set by Monty Stickles of the 49ers.
Hockenson had a terrific training camp, where he seemed to make a big play or a key red-zone grab daily. He and quarterback Matthew Stafford seem to have good chemistry. Hockenson's performance in Arizona proves that.
"I had been seeing it all training camp. I wasn't surprised at all," wide receiver Kenny Golladay said of Hockenson's big game. "It really just shows that we have a lot of weapons on this offense."
Hockenson said after the game it was cool to set the record for most yards by a tight end in his debut, but it would have felt much better if the team could have gotten a victory to go along with it.
Hockenson's good play extended beyond just making plays as a pass catcher. He made a key block in the backfield to give Stafford time to hit wide receiver Danny Amendola for a 47-yard touchdown in the first half. He did a nice job blocking in the run game, too.
The Lions were high on Hockenson throughout the pre-draft process, and he showed why Sunday in his NFL debut.
Left tackle Taylor Decker had a rough outing. There's really no other way to put it.
The Cardinals have two premier rushers on the edge in Chandler Jones and Terrell Suggs, and they got the better of Decker on a number of occasions.
Decker allowed two sacks, one of which turned into a Stafford fumble in Cardinals' territory.
Decker also got flagged for two holding penalties and two false start penalties.
"Like I said, give credit to them. They played really well. They've got, I don't know, a seven-time Pro Bowler in (Terrell) Suggs who's probably a Hall of Famer," Decker said after the game. "But at the end of the day, we have to go out and do our job. I'm going to have to do a better job myself."
It won't get much easier for Decker and Co. next week with the Los Angeles Chargers and their edge duo of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram coming to Ford Field. The Lions will need Decker to play much better next week.
View photos from the Detroit Lions at Arizona Cardinals Week 1 game at University of Phoenix Stadium on Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona.
- Head coach Matt Patricia coached from the sideline in a walking boot and crutches, ditching his perch behind the bench.
- Detroit's defense appeared to run out of gas a little bit in the fourth quarter. After holding Arizona to 100 yards of total offense and six points through the first three quarters, the Cardinals racked up 193 yards and 18 points in the fourth quarter alone, and another 94 yards and three points in overtime.
- Tracy Walker led the Lions with nine tackles in his first career start at safety. He had a tackle for loss, a defended pass and an interception. He was also the one in coverage on a long pass completion to Larry Fitzgerald in the second half that led to a key Cardinals score.