PHILADELPHIA -- It looked almost in slow motion. Detroit Lions receiver Marvin Jones beat Philadelphia Eagles DB Sidney Jones off the break in the end zone and then all the receiver had to do was get there.
But there’s a trust there, built from years of work between QB Matthew Stafford and Jones, his longest-tenured receiver in Detroit. So the ball floated and Jones laid out and by the time he came down -- and then crawled back to his teammates in celebration -- the Lions once again had a 10-point lead they’d need in a 27-24 win over Philadelphia on Sunday.
This doesn’t happen every week for Jones. He has had good seasons in Detroit, but never a year where he was the clear-cut No. 1 receiver for the Lions. First he split that time with Golden Tate. Now he does so with Kenny Golladay.
But on days like Sunday, where Stafford needs a trustworthy receiver, Jones often is the one he looks at. Jones had 99 yards receiving total through the first two games of the season. On Sunday, against Philadelphia, he had 101 yards. He caught his first touchdown of the season -- the score that ended up being the difference in the game.
So even though he hasn’t necessarily been utilized a massive amount so far this season, he gets it. He sees the options the Lions have and understands what Darrell Bevell is trying to do so he accepts it and, on days like Sunday, thrives in it.
"There was no thought in my head like, 'Man, I need this right now,'" Jones said. “I just go out there and do what I’m supposed to do and capitalize on my opportunities. I’ve done that so far and that’s how I think. That’s my process and stuff like that.
“Whatever we need to do to win, as long as we’re winning, that’s what I’m going to do.”
Last year, the Lions weren’t winning. Jones ended up injured. This year, there haven’t been dominant victories and there haven’t been rest-easy-at-the-end wins, but at 2-0-1 there have been wins. Sometimes Jones isn’t a major part of the plan. Then, on Sunday, he was.
Against the Arizona Cardinals and Los Angeles Chargers, Stafford targeted Jones 10 times. On Sunday, he looked his way nine times. It was balanced, too. Stafford targeted him three times on first down, three times on second down and three times on third down.
He looked to him in all areas of the field, too. In the red zone, in the middle of the field and on the edges. Anywhere Jones was Sunday, Stafford was sure to find him.
Will that happen in the future? It’s tough to say. Likely not every week. That hasn’t been Jones’ history and hasn’t been the way the offense has run under Stafford since Calvin Johnson’s departure. But in Jones, Stafford knows he has a player that he can count on when he needs to.
“I’m not going into a game saying I’m going to get the ball to this guy a bunch,” Stafford said. “I’m just calling plays and going out there and trying to run them the best I can. Marv did a great job. Marv has been a really good receiver here for quite a few years and got a lot of trust, a lot of reps with him, a lot of comfort with him.
“Really all those guys. Just proud of him to step up and make a bunch of really tough catches and some really big plays.”