Wide receiver Kenny Golladay has had some big performances in his short NFL career. But the game he had Sunday against Carolina was pretty special given the circumstances.
No Marvin Jones Jr., a practice squad receiver and newly signed free agent playing alongside of him, and then to lose starting running back Kerryon Johnson midway through the third quarter. A lot was riding on Golladay stepping up and being the guy for quarterback Matthew Stafford for Detroit's offense to stay on track Sunday.
He was exactly that in Detroit's 20-19 win over Carolina, a victory in which Golladay caught a game-winning 19-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter and finished with eight grabs for a total of 113 yards.
It's that kind of performance – against an opponent that knew the ball was going to Golladay – that can earn a second-year receiver respect from his veteran quarterback.
"I just think the more games he gets under his belt ... people forget he's a young player, second-year guy that didn't play all the games last year," Stafford said of Golladay Monday.
"He's done a nice job of producing for us, so I just think the more experience he can get and the more time together he and I have out on the field is going to be a positive."
The Lions could again be forced to rely heavily on Golladay Thursday on Thanksgiving against a very good Chicago defense. Jones wouldn't have practiced Monday if the Lions had held one because of the knee injury that kept him out last week. His status is yet to be determined.
If he can't go, however, Sunday's performance from Golladay should give Stafford a lot of confidence that this passing game can still stay on track with Golladay being its No. 1 option.
Only in the NFL can a Monday really be a Thursday.
But with a quick turnaround from Sunday's 20-19 win over the Panthers, to having to get ready for Thursday's annual Thanksgiving Day clash with Chicago, all the preparation gets pushed up this week.
This is actually a Thursday for the Lions in terms of their preparation for a typical Sunday contest. There isn't much time to reflect back on the Carolina game, which a usual Monday would involve. It's on to Chicago and trying to find a way to stack two wins together.
"You have to try to get the bodies to recover and I think it's like Wednesday in my world, or whatever it is right now already," Patricia said after the game Sunday. "So, it's just the mental preparation, which everybody can do. Everybody can mentally prepare and get themselves ready to go, and study and be ready to go. And we'll see how physical everybody is when we get up on Thursday morning."
It's a little bit easier this week that Detroit is playing a familiar opponent in Chicago, a team they played just a week ago.
Patricia said Monday that it's hard to prepare on a short week, and the lack of preparation time and practice can be an issue because there could be some new stuff that pops up scheme-wise that neither team has seen or is prepared for. Good adjustments in games like this are key.
For players like cornerback Darius Slay, the quick turnaround is more physical than mental.
"It's just a short week," he said. "We go get ready to prepare. As a team, we have to take care of our bodies and be ready for Thursday."
The Bears extended their lead in the NFC North Sunday night with a 25-20 win over Minnesota.
A Chicago defense that ranks first against the run, third overall and fourth in points allowed feasted on big plays again. That unit recorded three turnovers, nine tackles for loss, two sacks and scored a touchdown on an interception return.
It's the same defense that held Detroit to just 10 points until midway through the fourth quarter in a win over the Lions eight days ago.
Chicago is 7-0 this season when holding opponents under 24 points. They've forced multiple turnovers in nine of their 10 games. Chicago is second in the NFL in opponent 3 & out percentage (.267), and tied for second in fewest first downs allowed (183).
Can the Lions do a better job on offense against them the second time around?
"Obviously they have really good players," Stafford said of the Bears' defense. "They have a really good scheme. There's really strengths at all three levels of the defense.
"Their front is playing as good as any front in the league right now, they have two really good linebackers and their secondary is playing great too. Big challenge for us."