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Andre Roberts Is '100 Percent Sure' He Didn't Signal For Fair Catch On Punt Return TD

By: Will Burchfield

Andre Roberts provided a huge spark for the Lions in their 26-19 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, returning a punt 55 yards for a touchdown early in the second quarter.

But the play didn't transpire without some controversy.

Just before catching the punt, Roberts made a slight gesture with his left hand that could have been interpreted as a signal for a fair catch. When he proceeded to gallop untouched into the end zone for the Lions' first score of the game, Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley was livid on the sideline.

But Roberts was adamant afterward that he never called off the Jacksonville defenders.

"I'm 100 percent sure I didn't call fair catch on that one," he said.

He did consider it, however.

"I thought about it," Roberts admitted. "It was some pretty good hang time, but our guys do a good job holding up. So I just gave it a chance and it worked out."

Did it ever.

After fielding the punt at his own 45-yard line, Roberts cut to his left, burst back to his right and then streaked down the Lions' sideline into the end zone.

"I just tried to kind of fake those guys to the right and take it to the left. And once I saw the open field, I tried to run as fast as I could," he said.

It was a measure of redemption for Roberts, who had muffed a punt earlier in the game, setting up a Jaguars' field goal. After that mistake, he said he received plenty of support from his teammates and coaches on the sideline.

"(They were) giving me encouragement. Just told me not to press. A lot of guys came up to me. They believe in me and I believe in them. And thinking about it, harping on it, isn't going to help anything so I think everybody understood that, too," Roberts said.

Eric Ebron took particular satisfaction in watching Roberts redeem his prior miscue.

"It was great. I'm just happy for Andre. He really stepped up huge. We all make mistakes. We're all human and he knew what he did. He pretty much just told us, "You know I got y'all,' and put the team on his back on that punt return and made a heck of a play," Ebron said.

Coach Jim Caldwell was proud of Roberts' resiliency.

"Obviously, you love to see a guy bounce back that way. He's shown he has the ability to do that on a number of occasions. He doesn't shy away. Some guys will wilt in that situation and continue to make mistakes and compound them one after another. But Andre is able to kind of get over it quickly and then so something big for you later on," Caldwell said.

Roberts joked that his ability to stay confident through adversity is attributable to the time he spends on the golf course.

"Well I play a lot of golf and I hit some bad shots. So usually, you know, after those bad shots, you try to forget about them and hit a good one. So I credit that to my golf game," he said.

It was Roberts' second punt return touchdown of the season. The first one came against the Chicago Bears in Week 4, when he streaked 85 yards to the house.

"I think this one was better than the other one," Roberts smiled. "I don't know if that guy ended up touching me, but I felt untouched the whole time. So credit the punt return team for doing a great job blocking."

Signed in the offseason to a one-year, $760,000 contract, Roberts is proving to be a savvy acquisition. He's just the fourth player in franchise history to record two punt return touchdowns in the same season, and the first Lion to do so since Eddie Drummond in 2004.

In games when the Lions' offense scuffles, as it did on Sunday, Roberts knows contributions on special teams are key.

"It's very important," he said. "The good teams have very good special teams and I'm hoping by the end of the year we can say the same."

On top of Roberts' touchdown, the Lions received a surprise boost when safety Rafael Bush delivered a pick-six early in the third quarter. It was another example of the team coming up with the kind of big play that can swing the outcome of a game.

"I think we do have a knack for that and it's a good thing to see out of a team," Robert said.  "I don't think we're playing up to our ability, so hopefully as the season progresses we can play up to our ability and just keep making those kind of plays."

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