The fans were rewarded when Johnson established a new NFL single-season record for receiving yards, now with 1,892, breaking the Hall of Famer Rice’s 17-year old mark of 1,848 yards set in 1995.
Johnson got the record on his 10th reception of the game that went for 26 yards with 3:05 left in the fourth quarter.
Lions fans have been able to hang their hat on Johnson’s pursuit of the record over the last couple months, while the team has floundered on the field around him.
In the closing moments of another loss, in a season that’s been lost for some time now, Lions fans had something to cheer about. They had a reason to smile.
The disappointment of 2012 will come to an end next week when the Lions close out the season vs. Chicago. Johnson’s unbelievable season will come to end, too, but not before one more assault on the record books.
Johnson also set the records for most consecutive 100-yard games (8), most consecutive 10-catch games (4) and most 100-yard games in a season (11) in a 31-18 loss to the Falcons.
The next number of significance: 2,000.
Johnson is already in unfamiliar territory for a wide receiver, but after watching his 225-yard outburst against the Falcons, there’s no reason to think he can’t join the 2,000-yard club next week.
Only six players in the history of the league have reached 2,000 yards rushing in a season. Eric Dickerson holds the NFL record with 2,105.
Johnson needs 108 yards to become the first receiver to reach 2,000 yards in a season and will become just the seventh to reach the mark rushing or receiving. He needs 213 yards to eclipse Dickerson’s mark.
"He’s the greatest player I’ve ever seen and, like I said, I’ve seen a bunch of them," Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said Sunday in his press conference with the media.
"To see somebody do what he’s done when every game plan is designed to stop him. It says a lot about Calvin."
At the very least, Johnson will give it a run at Barry Sanders’ franchise record of 2,053 rushing yards set in 1997. He needs 162 yards to eclipse that mark.
“It’s going to be a very tough task,” Johnson told the NFL Network Sunday morning when asked about getting to 2,000 receiving yards.
“We have a tough Bears defense that we have coming into our place so we have to be on our P’s and Q’s this week, eliminate a lot of the errors we have on film from yesterday, and push forward. Finish this season on the right note.”
The Lions are left to play the role of spoiler Sunday, but at least fans can sit back and smile as they watch one of the best players in the NFL try to get to a milestone that was once thought untouchable for a receiver.
|1984||Eric Dickerson||Los Angeles Rams||2,105|
|2003||Jamal Lewis||Baltimore Ravens||2,066|
|1997||Barry Sanders||Detroit Lions||2,053|
|1998||Terrell Davis||Denver Broncos||2,008|
|2009||Chris Johnson||Tennessee Titans||2,006|
|1973||O.J. Simpson||Buffalo Bills||2,003|