DETROIT - Prior to Sunday's contest against the Arizona Cardinals, Lions' head coach Steve Mariucci received some disturbing news. Or so he thought.
Upon approaching receiver Roy Williams to ask of his second-year player's health, Williams dropped his head and told his coach he couldn't go. After getting the response he wanted, Williams laughed; later, he would make the Arizona Cardinals defense cry.
Williams hauled in seven receptions for 117 yards in the Lions 29-21 win over Arizona, three of them going for touchdowns. It was the receiver's first significant playing time since suffering a quadriceps injury a month ago. It was also the first time a Lions receiver hauled in three touchdowns since 1995 (Herman Moore).
The friendly exchange was also a positive for the entire organization. After last Sunday's loss to Minnesota, Williams -- maligned for being 'soft' -- claimed he told Lions' coaches he could play 20-30 plays; he played just a handful, leaving many in the media befuddled as to what the miscommunication really was about.
"Roy drives me nuts," Mariucci said with a chuckle following the win. "Before the games, we go out and look at the receivers to see who is working out and all that sort of thing. So we kind of had an idea of how we were going to play this game. We just wanted to get them out here working out to make sure we were all healthy and ready to go.
"So I went up to Roy and said: 'how are you doing?' He said, 'not good.' I said, 'WHAT?' He said 'I can't go.' Then he started laughing. He got me. Now he's a comic. I like to see him out there."
And so did Lions' quarterback Joey Harrington.
Harrington had perhaps his best game as a Detroit Lion (4-5), completing 22 of 32 passes for 231 yards, including the three touchdowns to Williams. And perhaps most importantly, no turnovers. The quarterback rating of 120.7 was the second highest in his career.
Heavy Williams and the recently activated Charles Rogers, the Lions offense responded immediately.
On fourth down on the team's first series, running back Kevin Jones took off for 36 yards, putting the Lions within scoring distance. Three plays later, Harrington found Williams in the back of the end zone from seven yards out for a juggling touchdown catch. It was the first time Detroit scored on its opening possession this season.
On their first series in the second quarter, Harrington again hooked up with Williams for a 21-yard score.
Responding to a late Cardinals' surge, the two would find each other again in the third quarter from 29-yards out.
"It's fun to play again," said Harrington. "It's fun to play well; have Roy (Williams) out there and it's fun to be running the ball again. We had a good day on offense. It's nice to have that feeling again because it's been awhile."
Despite the impressive performance, Harrington gave credit to where the credit was due.
"Well, you don't have to be perfect when you are throwing to Roy," he said. "You put it in a general area and he makes a play. He's a big physical guy. Even if he's covered, you can throw it to him. That first down that we got on their sideline, he had a hitch route that converted to a fade because they were up in press (coverage) and he got pressed out to the sideline.
"It wasn't a great route, but I put it up there and gave him a chance to catch it and he went and got it. That's the kind of thing that a guy like Roy can do. He can make plays for you even when it seems like there is nothing there. That forces defenses to play him differently."
Rogers played sparingly, hauling in one reception for four yards. But, Williams admitted, he still expects big things from his counterpart.
"He is a deep threat," William said. "I guess he only had that one ball today. I thought that Joey (Harrington) was going to throw him that ball that he threw to Scottie (Vines) in the end zone. I thought he was going to Charles' side because he had more room and the smaller guy on him, but it didn't happen.
"I am expecting big things from Chuck. We need him to play and we need him to produce; not only catches and yards, but we need TD's from him too."
Notes: MLB Earl Holmes left Sunday's game with a knee injury. It will be reevaluated on Monday. The news was better for outside linebacker Boss Bailey. The x-ray's on his injured ankle were negative.
'O', What a Game For Williams, Lions
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Scout NFL Network08/24/2016