Atlanta Falcons: Johnson needs 181 yards to break Rice’s record

Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson (81) is tackled by Falcons free safety Thomas DeCoud (28) and defensive back Kelvin Hayden (26) in the second half. ASSOCIATED PRESS

Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson (81) is tackled by Falcons free safety Thomas DeCoud (28) and defensive back Kelvin Hayden (26) in the second half. ASSOCIATED PRESS

FLOWERY BRANCH — Calvin Johnson and the Detroit Lions are trying to salvage something from the mess their season has become.

The Lions had appeared ready to contend in the rugged NFC North this year after ending a 12-season playoff drought last season. But a rash of injuries, some behavioral issues and eight one-score losses have left them at 4-10 and playing out the string.

Johnson, the former Georgia Tech All-American from Tyrone, and the Lions can generate some respect if they can take down the Falcons (12-2) at 8:30 p.m. Saturday at Ford Field.

“It’s been real tough, especially for the players” said Johnson, who is 181 yards away from Jerry Rice’s single-season receiving record of 1,848 yards. “Not counting what the media predicted for us, we have our own high expectations. We’ve let ourselves down and the whole organization with our record.”

Lions coach Jim Schwartz noted the team has lost the Nos. 2, 3 and 4 wide receivers in Nate Burleson, Titus Young and Ryan Broyles. The secondary has also been hit hard by injuries.

On Wednesday, the team placed defensive tackle Nick Fairley, who was having a breakthrough season, on injured reserve due to a shoulder injury.

“It’s been tough,” Johnson said. “We’ve had a lot of unfortunate breaks as far as injuries. … We’ve had to plug guys in there that have been on the practice squad or who haven’t been here at all.”

The injuries and the inability to find a replacement for injured running back Jahvid Best (concussion) has led to a two-man offense. Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, the former Georgia All-American, is constantly looking to throw to Johnson and teams haven’t been able to stop them.

“We’ve still been able to get our work in,” Johnson said. “That’s not going to stop us from doing what we do.”

The Falcons defeated the Lions 23-16 last season. Despite constant double-team coverage, Johnson had five catches for 115 yards and one touchdown.

“Calvin is an amazing athlete,” Falcons safety Chris Hope said. “He’s probably the one person that can do everything. He’s fast. He’s strong. He’s tall. He creates mismatches in pretty much every form.”

Even with the constant attention, Johnson, who is 6 foot 5 and 236-pounds, gets open. Because of his size, man-to-man coverage by smaller cornerbacks is not an advisable option.

Johnson is determined to pierce the Falcons’ scheme.

“There are some holes that we’ll have to be able to find and take advantage of,” Johnson said. “We never know if they are going to play us the same. We don’t know if there is going to be more zone or more man. We’re going to have to see when the ball is snapped on (Saturday).”

The Lions, who are in the midst of a seven-game losing streak, have dropped eight games by eight points or less. They turned in a stinker last week, losing 38-10 to Arizona, which had been on a nine-game losing streak. Detroit’s last victory was a 31-14 win over Jacksonville on Nov. 4.

By contrast, the Falcons, who need to win to secure the home-field advantage for the playoffs, have won seven games by eight points or less.

“The margins are narrow,” Schwartz said. “That is certainly the NFL. There are very few teams that go out and win in blowouts every single week. It’s just the nature of the NFL. It takes some fortune to be able to put it together.”

Rice set the yardage mark in 1995. Johnson, who tied an NFL record with seven straight 100-yard games last week, is looking forward to breaking the record.

“Man, that would be fantastic,” Johnson said. “All of the things that we’ve been through, to be able to accomplish something of that nature would be a pretty good way to end the year.”

As far as Schwartz is concerned, it couldn’t happen to a finer player.

“Nothing that guy does ceases to amazes me,” Schwartz said. “He’s the same guy you see on Sundays as you see in the offseason program and in the training camp. He’s one of the hardest workers that I’ve ever been around.

“As good of a player that he is on the field, he’s a better teammate and a better person. He’s just a really humble guy that does his job very well and is very competitive.”


32 comments Add your comment

J-Man Falcon Fan

December 20th, 2012
6:43 am

DLED, it must be early for you…..title says 91 yards when the record is 181. Also, we know Calvin went to Tech, saying he is a “Georgia All-American” is just wrong. Nolan will figure out a way to contain him and it will start by rattling Stafford. Go Dirty Birds!

Jim

December 20th, 2012
7:10 am

How fitting would it be to break Rice`s record playing us-Rice owned us for years? Remember Charles Dimry?

Ben

December 20th, 2012
7:10 am

I hope Megatron gets 200 receiving yards because I’m a big fan of his.

I also hope he never makes it in to the end zone, and the Falcons crush the Lions!

D. Orlando Ledbetter

December 20th, 2012
7:26 am

J-Man Falcons fan — It says “the former Georgia Tech All-American from Tyrone.” Correct on the 181.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

December 20th, 2012
7:29 am

J-Man Falcon Fan — “Matthew Stafford, the former Georgia All-American.”

D. Orlando Ledbetter

December 20th, 2012
7:32 am

THANKS J-MAN!!!

BillyBob

December 20th, 2012
10:14 am

“Remember Charles Dimry?” Wasn’t he beat for 4 tds at home? Fulton county stadium if I remember correctly.

Quizz Show

December 20th, 2012
10:48 am

Well, Megatron only needs 91 yards this Sunday and then 91 yards next Sunday to break the record, so the numbers aren’t all wrong. Just a little unclear :)

[...] Johnson needs 181 yards to break Rice’s record D. Orlando Ledbetter – Atlanta Journal ConstitutionDecember 20, 2012 [...]

Captain Crazy

December 20th, 2012
11:35 am

No, I don’t want to remember Charles Dimry! I was at that game…ugh! I DO hope he’s doing well in retirement, though!

LET-THE-NERDS-H8

December 20th, 2012
11:40 am

the madden curse couldnt get Megatron so it did some Final Destination sh!t and got all the other WR in the Lions roster lol

JSS

December 20th, 2012
12:12 pm

It wasn’t 4 TDs (by Rice), it 5 TDs back on 10/14/1990… It was my second year as a season ticket holder… Dimry and Case never adjusted the entire day to 49ers sending Rice in motion across the formations… It was a thing of absolute beauty…

Johnson is fantastic receiver, when he’s Canton, it will be be an honor to say I saw him way back at Sandy Creek…Doing this against what amounts to triple coverage is amazing….

warfalcon

December 20th, 2012
12:21 pm

We`ll spot you 81 you`ll have to get the other 110 next week.ONE GAME AT A TIME,LETS GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

okeetee

December 20th, 2012
12:51 pm

Well, I don’t think he’s going to get it against our secondary…..unless it’s in garbage time and we are up by 3 touchdowns! One of our strongest suits this year has been our secondary. Never seen a better one in Falcon history, have you? Even when we had Deon Sanders, it was pathetic. Now, one of our receivers may get 200 yards on the Detroit secondary!

Samuel

December 20th, 2012
12:59 pm

Ok secondary shut this guy down, he’ll get his yards, but he won’t break the record at the Falcons expense.

Snags

December 20th, 2012
1:39 pm

New stadium now! Bring MLS and US National Team games to the ATL.

Loyalfalconfrmthemississippi

December 20th, 2012
1:50 pm

Asante and decoud will shut this guy down, we will only spot you 50 and no tds.

falconsrus

December 20th, 2012
2:21 pm

D Led Awesome “Year of the Birdz” can’t wait till saturday night I enjoy reading your coverage up here in Massachucetts keep up the good work and Merry Christmas and happy holidays to you and yours

TUG MAN

December 20th, 2012
2:24 pm

what he needs.and gets is not the same thing.shut him down!!!!!!!!!big birds!!!!!!!!yea!!!!!ah

chuck

December 20th, 2012
3:12 pm

Wide Receiver I

Jeff B

December 20th, 2012
5:15 pm

Let’s get a big lead early, so Detroit can feed Megatron in garbage time and get him his record… in a loss!

wisconsinfalcons fan

December 20th, 2012
6:00 pm

LET’S GO DIRTY BIRDS STAY FOCUS EVERY GAME COUNT, THE LIONS WILL COME TO PLAY THAT HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE EXCEPT FOR GAME, 13-1 LET’S GET IT DONE… JUST WIN BABY!

ernisTbass

December 20th, 2012
6:53 pm

you can’t have a Jerry Rice highlite film without Dimry, he can truly tell his grandkids thaty he saw JR in his prime

ernisTbass

December 20th, 2012
6:56 pm

on another note C Johnson is doomed to have a career similar to Barry Sanders, a HOF player on a crap team

Mikey

December 20th, 2012
8:41 pm

We now have a shut-down defense! It is getting better every week. I am a real fan of Megatron… a top notch player and a top notch man… but I anticipate a tough day against our Falcons D. It is gettinhg better every week and has reached a very high level of maturity. GO FALCONS! YOU ARE RISING UP!

JSS

December 20th, 2012
10:54 pm

ernisTbass

December 20th, 2012
6:56 pm
“on another note C Johnson is doomed to have a career similar to Barry Sanders, a HOF player on a crap team”

You have Barry Sanders confused with O.J. Simpson in that light… Sanders elevated a bad franchise to a competitive one (although uneven one because of poor or mercurial coaching choices). He played 153 games and was 74-79 and played in playoff games and championship game…

OJ played in 135 games and his team’s were 43-91-1. That’s a crappy team…

Esquire

December 21st, 2012
6:24 am

Jeff B
December 20th, 2012
5:15 pm

Let’s get a big lead early, so Detroit can feed Megatron in garbage time and get him his record… in a loss!
************************************
Screw that. I don’t want CJ coming anywhere near a record against us. I see you say “in a loss” but still, why have the record books say he got it against the Falcons.

Megatron, what a freak of nature. Calvin’s gonna get some yards, I just hope the doesn’t break the record in this game and they keep him out of the end zone!

WE ARE THE MIGHTY MIGHTY FALCONS!!!!

ernisTbass

December 21st, 2012
6:41 am

I don’t have anybody confused, Barry Sanders unfortunately wasted his career elevating a bad franchise ( a crap team) to a competitive one , that is the point, they are still a bad franchise with a poor coach and even though Barry was a great player he never achieved what he deserved and I doubt CJ will either, both are great players that are sentenced to mediocrity in Detriot.

Frontman

December 21st, 2012
8:25 am

Calvin is so good that he almost made Reggie Ball look like an average quarterback.

Frontman

December 21st, 2012
8:27 am

And he just exudes class – I don’t think there are any pictures of him passed out drunk and cuddling with Joe Cox (wish that had never happened, right, Matt?).

bullrusher1

December 22nd, 2012
2:13 am

Falcons have contained #1 receivers really well this year. Take away CJ and you take away the offense. I know, easier said than done. Chop block Suh and you take away the defense, a dirty player, and the rest of the league sends you a gift basket. Falcons have beaten better, lost to worse. Hope CJ breaks the record, but hopefully in Week 17

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