Johnson's standalone performances can't get Detroit a win

Posted Oct 23, 2011

One of the regular debates in Detroit the past few seasons has been how the Lions can get wide receiver Calvin Johnson the ball; the general consensus being that Johnson getting the ball equates to the Lions winning football games.

The past two weeks, Johnson has led the Lions in receiving yards. He had seven receptions for 113 yards against San Francisco and five receptions for 115 yards with a touchdown against Atlanta.

Detroit did not come away with the win in either game.

What that proves is that it takes the offense as a whole to pull out the win and the Lions have struggled to do that the last two weeks.

"I can't call it," said Johnson of the team's offensive struggles. "We just weren't clicking on all cylinders like we have been. It's a lot of work we've got to do. We've got to figure some things out. Our playmakers need to get that ball, so we can get that ball moving down the field.

"That's the best way for us to get that ball down the field."

Both San Francisco and Atlanta have strong defenses that made Detroit earn everything it took offensively - particularly in the red zone.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford, who finished 15-of-32 with 183 yards and one touchdown, says the 49ers and Falcons didn't do anything different compared to the first five weeks of the season.

The Lions are just struggling to execute.

"These guys played their basic defense," said Stafford. "They clouded Calvin a little bit more than you see on film, but other than that, they played their defense.

"We just didn't execute at a high enough level to get the win."

One contributing factor was the pressure the Falcons were able to generate on Stafford.

Stafford was sacked three times and hit five and seemed to be constantly under duress.

According to Head Coach Jim Schwartz, though, there has been no difference between the pressure. The difference has been what the Lions have been able to do in the face of that pressure.

"Against Minnesota, we were able to make our plays and capitalize on some of those plays to be able to make them down the field," said Schwartz. "This game, we didn't.

"We had a couple times we had balls that were catchable that we didn't get or we have to run after the catch or we have to throw a better pass.

"All three of those things need to be better as well as our protection."

The Lions are hoping Johnson will come away with his fourth-consecutive 100-yard performance next week at Denver, but they are also hoping it's to complement an all-around offensive performance.

"(We) missed (opportunities) down the field and it's everywhere - it's everybody," said Johnson. "We're not (taking a step back). We're just not executing."