Detroit Lions tight end Sam LaPorta not only had the best game of his NFL career, he also made his mark in the team's history books. In their 33-28 win over the New Orleans Saints, LaPorta had a career-high 140 receiving yards, which is the new franchise record for most receiving yards by a rookie tight end.
LaPorta finished with 140 yards, nine catches and a touchdown.
He is just the second rookie tight end since 1970 to have 140-plus receiving yards and one or more receiving touchdowns in a game. The last time it was done was in 1995 by Jacksonville Jaguars tight end Pete Mitchell.
Lions' quarterback Jared Goff appreciated being able to rely on LaPorta when the offense needed to get going and after the game, had high praise for the rookie.
"Yeah, [I'm] as comfortable [with him] as anyone I've played with," Goff said (via Justin Rogers of The Detroit News). "And for a rookie, that's pretty tremendous. I'd compare it directly to what Saint [Amon-Ra St. Brown] was doing as a rookie, as far as on the field and off the field and the type of pro he is, knowing his assignments. He rarely has a (missed assignment), rarely has that type of rookie mistake. Very rarely. He's such a reliable guy and a guy that I count on in those crunch times. I know he's a clutch player."
LaPorta's 13-yard touchdown reception gave the Lions a 14-0 lead, after the extra point, he helped set up a St. Brown TD by making a 29-yard catch on the play prior and had a 48-yard reception that eventually lead to a field goal.
The 22-year-old is able to make those big plays and when he is not catching the ball, he is a solid blocker.
After their loss, Saints safety Tyrann Mathieu had nothing but good things to say about what he saw from LaPorta, noting that he spoke to him about his play.
"Well, he's going to be a good player. I told him that after the game," Mathieu said. "Just crafty for a rookie, man. The kind of routes he runs, his frame, his length, and then obviously, anytime you and the quarterback are on the same page, they're going to come away with some plays. I thought he probably had two of the more clutch plays in this game. So there were a few third downs in there. We had everybody covered, and then he just put the ball on his body, not his first down ... he's going to be a good player for a long time."
The rookie wants to be sure not to let the compliments from his teammates, and even opponents, get in his head.
"You don't want to get caught up in all that," LaPorta said. "It kind of muddies your vision, clouds your vision for the team and success we want to have moving forward."
LaPorta currently has 679 receiving yards on 64 receptions, averaging 10.6 yards per catch, and six touchdowns, tied with Baltimore Ravens' Mark Andrews for most trips to the end zone by a tight end this season. Kansas City Chiefs' Travis Kelce is the only other tight end to have a 140 yard game with one touchdown this year.
The Lions currently sit at 9-3 and are not only on track to win their division, but are fighting for the No. 1 overall seed in the NFC.