Monday September 29th, 2014

Detroit Lions wide receiver Golden Tate said Sunday after catching eight passes for 116 yards in his team's 24-17 win over the New York Jets that the Jets could have signed him in free agency.

Tate's eight catches matched a career high. Sunday was the fourth time in Tate's career that he has recorded at least 100 receiving yards.

With top receiver Calvin Johnson hobbled by an ankle injury -- he caught only two passes for 12 yards -- Tate was given a more prominent role in the Lions' passing attack. Tate was targeted 10 times, four more than any other Lions player, and averaged 14.5 yards per reception.

"Excited to be a part of this," Tate said. "I'm glad that Detroit decided to take a chance. Funny thing is that the Jets had a chance to get me also. They were deciding between me and (Eric) Decker and they went with Decker, a heck of a player also. But thankful for the opportunity to be here and help contribute, help win games and bring that championship mentality.

"When I signed here, it was no secret that Calvin was the best player in the league right now, best receiver. But I wanted to push him and today was the day that I needed to be the No. 1. I needed to step up and do what Calvin does, and it's not a bad thing to win games different ways."

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Tate caught 64 passes for 898 yards and five touchdowns with the Seahawks last season. Tate is now entering his fifth year in the league since being drafted in the second round out of Notre Dame in the 2010 draft. 

In March, Tate signed a five-year, $31 million deal with the Lions that reportedly includes $13.25 million in guaranteed money. Over four games this season, Tate has caught 24 passes for 317 yards.

Rather than pursuing Tate or other receivers, the Jets signed former Broncos receiver Eric Decker to a five-year contract worth $36.25 million, including $15 million in guaranteed money. Decker, who has been dealing with a hamstring injury, caught four passes for 48 yards in the loss. This season, Decker has recorded 14 receptions for 204 yards and two touchdowns.

The Lions host the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.

- Chris Johnson

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