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Lions vs. Falcons: Calvin Johnson Shatters Single-Season Yardage Record in Loss

DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 22: Calvin Johnson #81 of the Detroit Lions talks with the media after the game where he broke the NFL single season yardage record formally held by Jerry Rice against the Atlanta Falcons at Ford Field on December 22, 2012 in Detroit, Michigan. The Falcons defeated the Lions  31-18.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Leon Halip/Getty Images
Andrew GardaFeatured ColumnistDecember 23, 2012

In a season in which few things seemed to go according to plan, the Detroit Lions were able to at least celebrate Calvin Johnson breaking Jerry Rice's single-season yardage record.

Johnson finished the game with 11 catches for 225 yards, giving him 1,892 for the season. He's got an excellent chance to break 2,000 yards in a season, which seems insane, though he will have to go through Charles Tillman and the Chicago Bears to do it.

And yet I can bet that he'd trade it all for a winning season, much less a Super Bowl.

Still, this is a record that the Lions can build on and point to as a positive example that they can succeed. There were even a few positives in the 31-18 loss to Atlanta.

In the third quarter, they scored a touchdown on a Mikel Leshoure run and held the very potent Atlanta Falcons offense in check.

However, the fourth quarter saw the collapse of the Lions defense and a mostly sputtering offense. A Matthew Stafford interception (forcing a ball to Johnson) and a few big Falcons plays later, and the game was once again firmly out of reach.

It's easy to get lost in the Megatron record and the continued issues of the team in general, but there was a lot that went right Saturday night.

Stafford had one of his better days despite his one interception, especially considering how few weapons he has and how often he targeted Johnson.

When the entire stadium knows where the ball is going and you still get the ball to that target, that's worthy of note. On the other hand, Stafford continued his high-volume passing totals, completing 37 of 56 passes.

The front seven contained the run, though the Falcons aren't exactly a top running team (No. 28 in the league). Still, the Arizona Cardinals were even worse and scored three short-yardage touchdowns against the Lions.

Last week, the defensive line was repeatedly blown off the ball in short-yardage situations. While they lost some battles (especially in the late first half), they played the run very well and were in the backfield hitting Michael Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers behind the line of scrimmage quite often.

Are there still issues? Absolutely, and lots of them.

But as much as this was another big loss for the Lions, there were some positive things in it which they can build on going into 2013.

They can have some more happen next week when they meet the Chicago Bears for the final game of the season.

 

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