ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) — The Detroit Lions were well on their way to a blowout loss last week, digging themselves a 31-3 hole at Green Bay.
Then Marvin Jones Jr. ripped off a 73-yard touchdown catch to give some momentum to Detroit.
The Lions still lost, 34-27, but Jones’ impact on the team has been undeniable. He has given the offense and quarterback Matthew Stafford a legitimate downfield threat. Jones, in his first season with Detroit, has racked up 18 catches for 408 yards, averaging 22.7 yards per catch. Of Jones’ 18 catches, fully half of them have gone for more than 20 yards, and six have netted Detroit 30-plus yards.
“I’m comfortable within the system,” Jones said. “I think with all of us, it was kind of automatic. We all grew in the system and early on, learned the system with each other.”
Jones was listed as limited in practice Thursday with a hamstring issue, but he’s been healthy enough so far to lead the NFL with 136.0 receiving yards per game. No one else in the league has more than 325 receiving yards so far this season.
“We’re throwing the ball underneath a lot, but can you get it down the field?” offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter said. “Marvin is able to make some plays down the field, and that’s good for our offense. If you’re an opposing defense looking at our offense, you know you have to be aware of all threats. Marvin went out and made some really big plays, Stafford made some nice throws, O line gave some nice protection. It’s a positive development.”
In four seasons with the Bengals, Jones never averaged more than 14 yards per catch. His 73-yard score against the Packers last week was the longest catch of his career by 24 yards.
Before this season, Jones had tallied just two games with more than 100 yards receiving. He’s already done that twice for the Lions, including a career-high 205 in Green Bay. He’s just the fifth Lion to ever surpass the 200-yard plateau.
“I feel like quite a few of (his catches) have, kind of, been toe-tapping right on the sideline,” Stafford said. “His body control is really good, obviously has good speed . and he’s doing a good job of attacking the ball when it’s in the air. We’re not going to throw a deep ball every play, but if there’s opportunities for guys to go succeed at what they’re really good at, I’m going to try and give them that opportunity.”
Notes: Lions cornerback Nevin Lawson was flagged for pass interference at the start of the second quarter against the Packers, resulting in a 66-yard penalty. Lawson said one of his coaches told him the league admitted the call was a mistake. He said he believes pass-interference calls should be reviewable and added: “These refs have to be held accountable in some type of way. They should definitely have to get some type of consequences for making the wrong call, especially crucial calls that can decide wins or losses.”
(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)