A HISTORIC YEAR CONTINUES
His 13 receptions and 171 receiving yards in a loss to the Colts Sunday put Johnson well ahead of the pace of Hall of Fame receiver Jerry Rice and his 1995 season with the 49ers when he set the NFL record with 1,848 yards. Rice had 1,258 yards after 12 games that season.
Johnson now has 1,428 yards and needs 420 over the next four games to tie the record. That’s an average of just 105 yards per game.
Following Sunday’s performance, Johnson is averaging 119 yards per game.
He recorded his fifth consecutive game with at least 125 yards, which ties an NFL record set by the Lions’ Pat Studsill in 1966.
With 1,428 yards in 12 games (119.0 avg), he now has the most yards through 12 since receiver Lance Alworth had 1,428 in 1965. He is tied for the third-most receiving yards through 12 games in NFL history.
It’s too bad the Lions haven’t been able to parley a terrific individual season by one of the game’s best players into more wins.
WHAT WENT WRONG? FIVE TIDE-TURNING PLAYS
Penalty - 4th-and-2 at the IND 23 (3:29 remaining)
With the Colts down two scores (33-21), they needed two yards to keep their drive alive at their own 23. Luck couldn’t find anyone downfield, but scrambled up the middle for eight yards.
“The chunk and then a clock stoppage in that situation is obviously a big thing right there,” said Schwartz of the play. “It wasn’t so much the horsecollar, it was his ability just to step right up on us.”
Touchdown – 1st-and-10 at the DET 42 (2:47 remaining)
Despite some chunk plays and the penalty, the Colts still had some ground to cover to reach the endzone, 1st-and-10 at the Lions’ 42, with 2:47 remaining.
Luck got it all with one completion, though, passing deep to rookie receiver LaVon Brazill for a 42-yard score.
“We gave up a ball over our head and we’re up two scores. Inexcusable,” said Schwartz.
Running down the clock – 3rd-and-5 at the DET 49 (2:00 remaining)
Despite the Colts closing the gap to within a score of the Lions, Detroit – up 33-28 – had the ability to ice the game in the final 2:37.
After a 21-yard pass interference play gave the Lions the ball at their own 44, they ran three straight downs for yard totals of -2, 7 and 1.
“They’re out of timeouts, we can burn the clock all the way down to a minute and 20 in that situation,” said Schwartz. “You saw the way the time was at the end of that game. We did a poor job of managing it after that, but that was the right decision at that point.
“We were still trying to get a first down. They were loading up pressure inside, we were trying to get on the outside of it. That had nothing to do with it. That’s the right decision to make right there. It’s after that that we didn’t get the job done.”
Punt – 4th-and-4 at the 50 (1:14 remaining)
Up five with 1:14 remaining, the Lions at the very least could pin the Colts – who needed a touchdown to win - deep in their own territory.
Instead, the punt went 25 yards to the Colts’ 25-yard line.
When asked about the punt, Schwartz said “Terrible. Terrible. If we don’t make the first down right there, we take the time all the way down to one second, we get a good punt, at least it’s on the 20-yard line if not inside the 20.
“In that situation we got our worst punt of the game right there and we weren’t even rushed in that situation either.”
Game-winning TD - 4th-and-10 at the DET 14 (0:03 remaining)
The game-winning touchdown that sealed the loss for the Lions was obviously the most impactful play of the game.
“We did a poor job. We were protecting the endzone. The worst job was letting the quarterback escape,” said Schwartz.
“If we put the quarterback on the clock, if we don’t give him a place to scramble, he never finds that guy dragging across the field. Our guys were defending the endzone in that situation. We have to do a better job of pass rushing.”
A CONTROVERSIAL CALL?
Lions head coach Jim Schwartz made a call that is already being debated ad nauseam when he decided to run the ball on 3rd-and-5 inside two minutes remaining in the game with a chance to ice it with a first down.
Perhaps the right call would have been to go for the throat. Schwartz had a front row seat the whole game to a 13-catch, 171-yard performance by Johnson. The Colts couldn’t stop him. Even when he was covered they couldn’t stop him. Instead of a by-the-book call, what about trying to get the ball into the hands of the best player on the field?
“That’s the head coach’s call,” quarterback
They did and it gave Luck just enough time to win.
The defense was just coming off a game in which they surrendered a 97-yard drive at the end of regulation vs. the Texans that tied the game and sent it into overtime.
Coaches make the same call every week, but how about trying to win the game utilizing the strength of the team – your All-Pro wide receiver.
“When you play inconsistent in the secondary the way we have you don’t usually come out winning games,” he said. “When you play like that you don’t win in this league.”
The secondary picked off Luck three times, but also allowed seven plays of 20-plus yards and four of 40-plus.
The Lions were so worried about the receivers in the back of the end zone on the game's final play that they completely lost receiver Donnie Avery on a short crossing route.
“We did a poor job,” Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said of the play. “We were protecting the endzone. The worst job was letting the quarterback escape. If we put the quarterback on the clock, if we don’t give him a place to scramble, he never finds that guy dragging across the field. Our guys were defending the endzone in that situation.”
Luck finished with nearly 400 yards passing (391) and made all the plays down the stretch. The defense didn’t make any.
“Teams who win always do the little things to get the (win),” cornerback
It’s been a disturbing trend over the current four-game losing streak.