Amon-Ra St. Brown is a stud – ‘and will be for as long as he wants to be in this league’

97.1 The Ticket
97.1 The Ticket

A few weeks ago, the Lions put their first win of the season in the hands of a rookie. He secured it on Sunday. The drought is over, and the rest of Amon-Ra St. Brown's career has just begun.

"I’ll be honest with you, we got a lot of trust in him," said Dan Campbell. "We have for a while. It's just trying to get him the ball here. He’s one of those guys that’s become pretty dependable for us."

As always, there's weight to Campbell's words. St. Brown earned the right to be Jared Goff's first option on the play that lifted the Lions over the Vikings in the final second of Week 13. Goff said it's a play the Lions have been running since camp "for that exact situation," only recently with a twist.

"A few weeks ago, we actually switched it and put St. Brown as that guy that’s going to catch that ball in the game-winning situation," he said. "Sure enough, it showed up."

If St. Brown's being honest, he couldn't believe it. Not that the Lions wanted to get him the ball -- that the Vikings were so willing to let him have it. They conceded the front of the end zone on Sunday's do-or-die play, and that's exactly where St. Brown was headed. Maybe Minnesota's defense wasn't worried about the rookie without a touchdown to his name. Maybe it should have been -- he already had a career-high nine catches on the day. The Vikings should have several years to adjust.

"As I broke in I was actually wide open, like, no way. So I was looking at Jared like, 'Please just throw it,'" said St. Brown. "As the ball was in the air I was like, 'This can’t take any longer,' because I know the DB is coming from behind. So I was just sitting there waiting.'"

St. Brown was sitting there waiting in the draft. The undersized receiver with oversized heart was still on the board in the fourth round. Finally his name was called by Detroit, 112th overall. And then he was sitting there waiting for his chance. As the Lions searched for someone, anyone, to make plays in the air, St. Brown caught the passes that came his way and blocked his tail off on the ground.

12 passes came his way on Sunday. He caught 10 of them for a career-high 86 yards, including four for 36 on the game-winning drive. All while blocking like a madman. St. Brown wound up playing 96 percent of Detroit's offensive snaps, more than any receiver in the game. There's a reason beyond his ball skills that the Lions trust him. But his ball skills don't hurt. His ball skills are real, along with his knack for getting open. The rookie knows where to go when his team needs him most.

It didn't take long for St. Brown's name to come up at Goff's post-game press conference. The veteran quarterback was so eager to answer he didn't let the reporter finish his question. This is what Goff does when he knows exactly what he wants to say.

What does it say about St. Brown...

"He’s a stud," said Goff.

The reporter pressed on, and now so did Goff, shaking his head to stake his ground: "He's a stud. He's a stud."

... and your confidence in him...

"A lot of confidence," said Goff. "He’s a stud and will be a stud for as long as he wants to be in this league. He’s been on our mind trying to get him the ball for probably the last six weeks now and I think today it showed up. Just trying to get him involved and get him the ball in space with what he can do with it. I’m pretty sure he jumped over somebody on the sideline there early in the game. He’s a freak."

The Lions need more freaks on offense. (They need more freaks, period.) They have one in D'Andre Swift, so long as he stays healthy. Maybe they have another in St. Brown. He's not explosive like Swift, but he's exceptionally strong for his size. His instincts are a separator. So is his heart. St. Brown can be a good slot receiver in the NFL, but he has a chance to be more for the Lions. It started a few weeks ago. A few years from now, we might remember this as the dawn of a special career.

"I think it boosts everyone’s confidence, the coaches, me, the quarterback, to know that I can make those plays at the end of the game," said St. Brown.

One day, the Vikings might even cover him.

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