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A by the numbers look at Golden Tate's massive season

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Detroit Lions receiver Golden Tate grabs the ball anywhere on the field and once that happens, that's when his real skills begin.

Sure, the former Notre Dame receiver has some of the best hands in the NFL and has dropped just one of Matthew Stafford's passes this season, but what he does perhaps better than anyone in the league happens after the ball is in his hands.

It is then Tate turns into a player who appears to be slicked down with oil. He jukes and twists and spins and turns and good luck, defenders, taking him down anywhere but straight up on top of him.

"There's quickness," Lions coach Jim Caldwell said. "Obviously it's something that jumps out at you right away. He's quicker than the norm. He's a guy that can avoid tackles, he has a great awareness about him.

"I think the often times in this league, and obviously when he played major college football even, if you have a skill set, sometimes it's enhanced and developed because of your size or lack thereof. I just think he uses every ounce of his talent."

That talent was evident at Notre Dame and was somewhat stunted in Seattle, which ran a run-heavy offense using multiple targets. It's part of why he came to Detroit, to play in a pass-friendly scheme that could use both his downfield speed along with his hands and slipperiness on shorter routes.

When he came to Detroit, all he knew was he was playing in an offense that would throw the ball more.

"I didn't really know what to expect coming into this situation other than Calvin Johnson, which is one of the best players in the league right now, he's going to draw a lot of attention," Tate told ESPN.com in London. "I figured I'd open it up for him. Obviously no one was expecting injuries to hit us so soon and so early and I've taken it really personal to get out there and hold it down until Calvin can get back."

He more than did that -- as his numbers this season have shown he is on pace to put together one of the best non-Calvin Johnson seasons in Detroit Lions' history.

1 – Drops by Tate this season.

1.1 – Percentage of passes Tate has dropped from Stafford this season.

6.88 – Yards after catch per reception, seventh in the NFL.

13.8 – Yards per reception, right now his lowest average since 2011.

21.6 – Percent of receptions per routes run, fourth in the league.

36 – First downs receiving Tate has accounted for.

53.7 – Percent of his touches that end up in first downs or touchdowns.

66 – Receptions by Tate through nine games, second in the NFL and more than he has had in any season in his professional career. The only season he had more catches was his last one at Notre Dame, when he had 93 receptions for 1,496 yards.

72.5 – Percentage of receptions per targets, ninth in the league.

91 – Targets in 2014 through nine games, five off a career-high set last year.

346 – Routes run by Tate this season.

454 – Tate's yards after catch, currently No. 1 in the NFL, three more than Demaryius Thomas and 53 more than Antonio Brown, in third place.

909 – Yards for Tate this season, already a career-high, and fourth in the NFL.