BOSTON – With Nelson Agholor out with an injury, Sunday figured to provide a significant opportunity for rookie wide receiver Tyquan Thornton.
And Thornton made the most of it, hauling in his first career touchdown catch early in the third quarter to give the Patriots a double-digit lead.
The touchdown came on third-and-goal from the 2-yard line. Fellow rookie Bailey Zappe stood tall in a clean pocket when Thornton broke free from cornerback Greedy Williams on a slant. Zappe eventually saw Thornton, who flicked his left arm up to call for the ball before delivering a shot.
Thornton made the catch and fell to the turf for his first regular season touchdown as a pro.
It’s not often that a Patriots rookie throws a touchdown to another rookie, as ESPN noted that it hadn’t happened since 1993.
He wasn’t done either. After the Patriots recovered a muffed punt at the Cleveland 19-yard line, Thornton took a jet sweep and burst around left end, running untouched into the end zone for his first career hurrying touchdown.
Thornton played in just his second career game when he was activated from injured reserve prior to the Patriots’ game against the Lions last week. He had just two catches for seven yards in his NFL debut, but his second NFL game became a bit more memorable with that end-zone grab and game-changing rushing touchdown.
Thornton was another pick by the Patriots this year, No. 50 overall out of Baylor.