Hockenson shreds Bears to highlight Iowa’s NFL presence in Week 13

The former Iowa tight end burned the Chicago defense to lead the Lions to a 34-30 come-from-behind victory.



Detroit Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson (88) is tackled by Chicago Bears safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (21) after catching a pass in the first quarter of their NFL game at Ford Field in Detroit, on Thursday, November 28, 2019.

Chris Werner, Sports Reporter

George Kittle is sidelined with an injury and has been for most of the 2020 season. But other former Hawkeye tight ends are producing highlight performances in his absence.

T.J. Hockenson was one of few bright spots for the Lions on Thanksgiving when the Houston Texans defeated Detroit 41-25, collecting five receptions for 89 yards on Turkey Day. He followed that up with another standout performance in Week 13.

The former Iowa tight end starred in back-to-back weeks for the Lions and this time, his team came out with a win over the rival Chicago Bears.

With Chicago leading 30-20 with just over four-and-a-half minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, and Detroit starting its drive at its own four-yard line, Hockenson came up big.

On second down, he caught a 14-yard strike from quarterback Matthew Stafford to bring the line of scrimmage to the 18. Later in the drive, Hockenson caught another pass for 13 yards to bring the ball to the Bears’ 25.

On the very next play, Lions wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. caught a touchdown to cap off the 96-yard drive that brought the Lions to within three.

Hockenson also caught a red zone pass on third down in the first quarter to keep a Lions drive alive that would ultimately end with the ageless wonder Adrian Peterson finding the end zone from three yards away.

Hockenson also made multiple diving catches in the third quarter.

The tight end’s big afternoon brought him closer to signing his name into the Lions’ franchise record books.

On the season, Hockenson has 614 receiving yards on 52 receptions including 173 yards in the last two weeks. He’s just 164 yards away from setting Detroit’s single-season record for receiving yards for a tight end. Brandon Pettigrew set the current record of 777 yards back in 2011.

Hockenson’s seven receptions on Sunday matched a season and NFL career-high for the second-year player.

Hockenson is leading all NFC tight ends in Pro Bowl fan voting, as of Nov. 28. Hockenson is third among all tight ends this season in receiving yards, behind Kansas City’s Travis Kelce —who is second in all of football — and Las Vegas’ Darren Waller.

RELATED: Iowa defensive back Julius Brents enters NCAA Transfer Portal

Fant leads offense as Broncos nearly upset Chiefs

After being the leading — and only — receiver for the Broncos a week ago when emergency quarterback Kendall Hinton stepped in for Denver in a 31-3 loss to the New Orleans Saints — where Hinton threw more interceptions than completions — the Broncos offense returned to normalcy as Vic Fangio’s bunch nearly toppled the one-loss Chiefs.

Fant, along with receiver Tim Patrick, led the team in receptions with four apiece, and led his squad in receiving yards with 57.

Although Fant is surging, the Broncos are not. Sunday’s loss marked the team’s second straight defeat and their fourth loss in the last five games. After getting out to an early lead, the Broncos had a chance for a game-winning drive getting the ball down by six points with less than a minute remaining.

After moving to their own 35 yard-line, on fourth and six, quarterback Drew Lock threw the game-sealing interception as Tyrann Mathieu cradled the ball over the middle with just under 30 seconds left in the game.

Former Iowa linebacker Anthony Hitchens contributed a co-team-leading four tackles for Kansas City on Sunday night.