In three seasons at the University of Notre Dame, Tyler Eifert never went more than three games in a season without a touchdown.
In the NFL, it took the Cincinnati Bengals’ rookie tight end seven games to snag that first score. And it was worth the wait.
The 6-foot-6, 250-pound Eifert was matched step for step by Lions cornerback Rashean Mathis to the left front corner of the end zone. But Eifert, looking over his right shoulder, made a nice adjustment on Andy Dalton’s throw to his left shoulder. Eifert outleaped the 6-1 Mathis at the goal line and his momentum carried Eifert to his first touchdown.
His parents, Greg and Julie who live in Fort Wayne, Ind., were at Ford Field to witness his first touchdown.
“I saw them after. They were pretty excited,” said Eifert, whose catch might have resembled his dad going for a rebound while playing basketball for Gene Keady at Purdue University. “I don’t get too excited about much. They were probably more excited about it than I was.”
It looked like you almost handed the ball to the official before realizing you might want to keep this one as a memento.
“I’m just used to flipping the ball to the ref (from college). I started to and I said, ‘Uh, I think I’ll this one.’ I’m sending it home and my mom will do something with it, get it framed or something. I’m not sure yet.”
You made a nice adjustment to your left on Dalton’s pass. Describe what you saw.
“He kind of threw it to the outside. I had to adjust to it and I was happy he kind of threw it up and let me go make a play. It was a play we practiced all week and we finally called it. I had a good feeling it was going to be a big play.”
You’re making a contribution to the offense with 22 catches. With so many options on offense is it a matter of waiting for your opportunities?
“We’ve got a lot of different weapons. For me, I can’t control how many balls I get thrown or anything like that so I try to help out when I can. It’s nice to have the first one out of the way. But really it’s not a huge deal. It does feel good to get one.”
Mathis was smiling as he got up and walked away after the touchdown. Did he say anything?
“He didn’t say anything. He had pretty good coverage so I don’t know. I didn’t even know that. I don’t pay much attention to it.”
The team is 5-2 with the Jets coming to town Sunday. You have to feel pretty good about where you are at this point in the season.
“We’re definitely happy to be where we’re at. It’s not easy to win two games on in a row on the road like that. We’re happy to be at 5-2.”