GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — It was a bright spot in a tough game: Detroit Lions left tackle Taylor Decker scored his first career touchdown in Sunday's loss to the Rams.
Caught up in the moment, Decker launched the ball in the stands after the score. Bill Zerbst caught it.
His wife had gotten him tickets to the game for a birthday gift, so he had traveled from Greenville to Ford Field with family and friends. They were sitting in the 23rd row.
"Having some chicken tenders with my wife and friends and all of the sudden, this football's flying at my face," Zerbst recalled Monday.
That's when he said he made the catch of his life with just one hand.
"I got a beer in my left hand. I tip the ball with my right hand (and) cover that up for dear life," he said. "How rare is it to catch an NFL football? Being thrown by an offensive lineman? Ridiculous."
After the game, Decker told reporters he wanted to find the fan who had the ball.
"I would love to have it back, but I just threw it," he explained.
So Decker took to Twitter, explaining the TD was his first ever — not just in the NFL, but actually since he started playing football in the first grade.
To whoever caught/has the ball I threw into the stands. I’ve played football since first grade, and that was my first ever touchdown. I’d love to have that ball, and would be more than happy to hook you up if you’d be willing. #defendtheden #bigmantouchdown— Taylor Decker (@__taylordecker) December 3, 2018
Zerbst's friends encouraged him to get on Twitter and he was able to connect with the Lions star.
"I wake up this morning and I got a message from Taylor Decker and it just hit me like a freight train," he said.
Zerbst said he will return the ball to Decker. The two were able to work a deal that Zerbst wanted to keep under wraps.
I HAVE FOUND HIM!!!!!!! AND HE IS BEING GREAT ABOUT IT #socialmediastrikesagain— Taylor Decker (@__taylordecker) December 3, 2018
He joked to Decker that his 4-month-old will watch over the ball in the meantime.
Despite giving back what would have been an unforgettable keepsake, it's another great memory for Zerbst a lifelong Lions fan. His father, who has since passed. took him to his first game back in the '90s. He believes hi dad was with him Sunday and helped him make that incredible catch.
"I've got to believe that he had a little helping hand in me bringing in this ball," Zerbst told 24 Hour News 8. "I mean, 'What are the odds? That kind of coverage bringing it down one handed? Something was helping me out there."
Decker played his college ball at Ohio State, and Zerbst said the Lions tackle was relieved to find out it wasn't a U of M fan who caught the ball.
Zerbst roots for Michigan State and joked that only a Spartan fan could've made a catch like that.
Slay returns interception for TD,...
Rams beat Lions, clinch NFC West title