Playoffs give Lions WR Amon-Ra St. Brown a chance to shine, making relentless routine pay off

APTOPIX Buccaneers Lions Football
Posted at 9:36 PM, Jan 25, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-25 21:36:14-05

ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) — Detroit Lions wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown wrote goals in a notebook before the season started and reads them daily.

How's he doing on the list?

“Good,” St. Brown said Thursday. “Great, actually.”

He accomplished at least two goals, having at least 1,500 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns during the regular season, and a dream for the Lions is within reach, too.

Detroit plays at San Francisco on Sunday in the NFC championship game, giving the long-suffering franchise a shot to reach its first Super Bowl.

If the Lions upset the 49ers, a seven-point favorite according to FanDuel Sportsbook, there's a good chance St. Brown will have a lot to do with it.

St. Brown had career highs with 119 receptions and 1,515 yards receiving — ranking tied for second and third in the league, respectively — and 10 touchdowns to help Detroit win its first division title since 1993.

Jared Goff's go-to receiver has 15 catches in the playoffs, setting a team postseason record, for 187 yards and a touchdown. He's a key reason the Lions have earned two postseason victories for the first time since winning the 1957 NFL title.

“If you told me my rookie year, you’re going to be in the NFC championship in two years, I don’t know if I would have believed you,” St. Brown said. “But we’re here now. It’s right in front of us. We’ve got a chance to do something special. We’ve got to keep going.”

It's a safe bet that St. Brown won't stop.

His work ethic has become legendary among Lions coaches and players, leading to him becoming an All-Pro in his third season.

St. Brown catches hundreds of footballs, fired out of a JUGS machine, when he's at the team's training facility. And if he doesn't run enough routes in a practice, he'll sprint after practice to get his work in.

Detroit coach Dan Campbell said St. Brown's consistency is what he appreciates the most about him.

“The things that he does every day in practice and every game show up all the time,” Campbell said. “That’s what a pro is and it’s why he’s a pro.

“You know exactly what you’re going to get every time, so it’s easy when you have a guy like him on your team,” Campbell added. “It’s easy to game plan with him because you know what you’re going to get.”

The Lions liked what they saw from St. Brown at Southern California, but they could not have projected him to be the player he has become.

Otherwise, they wouldn't have waited until the No. 112th overall pick in the 2021 draft to take him in the fourth round. In addition to St. Brown's goals that he has written in his notebook, he has a space to list the 16 receivers that were drafted ahead of him.

St. Brown was given another source of motivation when he wasn't selected for the Pro Bowl.

“I don’t know how many 1,500-yard receivers with 10 touchdowns didn’t make the Pro Bowl,” he said. “But I guess I got to try to look that up and see.”

Hall of Famer Isaac Bruce, in 1995 with the Rams, is the only other player with those numbers that wasn't picked for the Pro Bowl in the Super Bowl era, according to Sportradar.

“He has a chip on his shoulder,” 49ers linebacker Fred Warner said. “He got drafted in the (fourth) round. He took that personally and he’s been able to ascend himself into the top tier of receiver play in this league really early in his career.”

Through three seasons, St. Brown ranks among the NFL's most productive receivers.

St. Brown, Minnesota's Justin Jefferson and Michael Thomas of New Orleans are the three players in league history to have 90-plus catches in each of their first three seasons.

If St. Brown has at least seven receptions against San Francisco's stingy defense, he will join Thomas and Wes Welker as the three players to catch seven-plus passes in their first three playoff games.

“He does things the right way,” Warner said. “You can tell he plays hard, practices hard and does things the right way.”