LIONS INSIDER

NOTEBOOK: The vertical passing game; Sam Martin's explanation and more

Posted Oct 20, 2013

Tim Twentyman on the value of Calvin Johnson, Sam Martin's 28-yard punt, injuries to come out of the game and more in the Lions' 27-24 loss

It’s pretty obvious what Calvin Johnson means to the Lions offense, but it can’t be explained any better than his 50-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.

"It was a great catch," Stafford said of Johnson going over three Bengals defenders for the touchdown. "They did a great job of playing deep-to-short today with Calvin on the field. I held it as long as I could, threw it. I didn’t get to see a lot of it. I saw the very end of it and it was one of the best catches I have ever seen."

The key phrase there was, "threw it." That, in a nutshell, is what Johnson brings to the offense. There’s never such a thing as a bad throw to Megatron, when he has an opportunity to make a play.

"Matt left it up there with a lot of air, so I could go do it," Johnson said. "Just happened to make a play."

Johnson’s done a lot of that over his seven years in the league. The 50-yarder was the 60th touchdown catch of his career, joining Herman Moore (62) and Barry Sanders (109) as the only players in franchise history to reach the mark.

The Bengals made a concerted effort to stop the Lions run game (77 yards) and Stafford was able to make plays down the field to counter the looks he was seeing.

"We were just trying to take what they gave us," Stafford said. "I missed some guys. Some other times we hit them and made some big plays."

MARTIN EXPLAINS THE PUNT

Rookie punter Sam Martin took full responsibility for the terrible 28-yard punt at the end of the game, but did explain to reporters after the game what happened on the play.

"I got no real excuse for it," Martin said. "In a situation like that, you are expecting a heavy rush and that’s what I was expecting and I rushed myself to prevent a block and just pulled it."

Martin said after the game that nine out of 10 times a full rush is coming in that situation with a team backed up and so little time on the clock.

The punt set up a late Bengals 54-yard field goal to win the game.

The Bengals threw the rookie a curveball and he missed it.

INJURY REPORT

Right tackle Corey Hilliard (knee) and cornerback Rashean Mathis (groin) did not finish the game, and that’s never a good sign on the injury front.

Left tackle Riley Reiff injured a hamstring in the first half, but returned to the game once Hilliard went down.

Hilliard is likely to have an MRI and more tests done on the knee Monday.

"(LaAdrian Waddle) had to come in, played some left (tackle), played some right tackle," Schwartz said. "Reiff was limited when he came back in, but he was able to go out and finish the game. There’s some injury situations that we’re going to have a close eye on this week, including that one."

THE LATERAL THAT WASN'T

Corey HilliardT Corey Hilliard (Photo: G.Smith/Detroit Lions)

After David Akers' field goal was blocked late in the first half, Bengals safety Reggie Nelson picked up the loose ball and headed for the Lions end zone. As Detroit's Dylan Gandy wrapped him up, Nelson appeared to lateral the ball forward to Dre Kirkpatrick, who continued down the sideline for an extra 15 extra yards.

The officials told Schwartz, who appeared to have the challenge flag out, he couldn't challenge that aspect of the play.

"I thought it was a forward lateral, but the officials told me that that didn’t matter on the blocked kick, so I decided not to challenge it," he said.

"You can challenge it, but they said that there’s no such thing as a forward fumble on a blocked kick. That’s what I was told."