Is Johnson best receiver in NFL?

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    (CALVIN JOHNSON is on a record breaking pace. – Lakeshia Harvey photo)

    Yeah the Detroit Lions are not living up to the hopes and dream of its faithful during its 2012 campaign. With it playoff hopes dashed with last week’s loss to the Indianapolis Colts, what is the team playing for?

    Pride, respect and personal glory are all that is left for the Lions season.

    One thing that bothered me about Detroit’s early season offense was that they got too cute. They used Johnson as a decoy. What I have seen in all my years covering the NFL was that teams like San Francisco, Minnesota and San Diego, just to name a few used their star receivers (Jerry Rice, Randy Moss and Antonio Gates) no matter the team of defensive scheme.

    It seems the Lions have finally said just give Johnson the darn ball, and, he has responded.

    NFL receivers, along with Olympic 100-meter sprinters and international soccer stars, are the acknowledged divas of professional sports. Yeah, I can hear many saying what about baseball and basketball players? Well, in my humble opinion they are not even close.

    Johnson is recognized but many as the best receiver in the NFL. Therefore, he has every right to join the NFL diva club of Max McGee (in Super Bowl I he violated Vince Lombardi’s curfew policy, but still caught two TD’s with a hangover), Terrell Owens (the reality show), Moss, Lance Alworth (simply the clothes), Michael Irvin, Chris Carter, Keyshawn Johnson, Fred Biletnikoff (the stickem is enough to get him on my list), Andre Rison, Chad Ochocinco (the name change), Sterling Sharpe, Don Maynard, and Rice, just to mention a few..

    My list has nothing to do with who’s the greatest receiver, just their personal presentation and style on and off the field.

    Johnson did not even give himself a name like many of the others. He simply got the moniker Megatron from his peers. Against the Colts Johnson showed a national television audience why he has earned that nickname and why Madden 2012 chose him to be its valued cover boy.

    Against the Colts Johnson caught 13 passes for 171 yards and 1 touchdown. That gave him five-straight games with 125 or more receiving yards which tied an NFL record set by Lions WR Pat Studstill in 1966.

    Also, Johnson’s current streak of four games with 140 or more yards tied the longest streak in NFL history by Lions Cloyce Box spanning the 1952-53 seasons. He is the only player with four-straight games with 140 or more yards in the same season.

    “I’m feel better that I did earl in the season,” Johnson said, “and I seem to be getting more opportunities. That’s the main difference I see.”

    Added Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford: “Johnson’s a heck of a player. Even when I missed him he still seems to be able to make a play on the ball. Yeah, he is the best receiver in the league.”

    Johnson’s 13 catches against the Colts set a new career high and are the second-most receptions in a game in Lions history. He was one shy of the team record of 14 set by Herman Moore. His 171 receiving yards versus the Colts was his 29th career 100-yard receiving game: He is second only to Moore (34) for the most in team history.

    With 1,428 yards in 12 games (119.0 avg), he now has the most yards through 12 games since Alworth has 1,428 in 1965. He is tied for the third-most receiving yards through 12 games in NFL history. While tied with Alworth, he is behind Charlie Hennigan with 1,541 in 1961 and Crazy Legs Hirsch with 1,495 in 1951 for the most receiving yards through 12 games.

    Johnson’s 119.0 yards per game average through 12 games is on pace to break both the Lions all-time single season record for receiving yards (Moore, 1,686 in 1995) and the NFL record for receiving yards in a season (Rice, 1848 in 1995). At 119.0 yards per game, he would finish the season at 1,904 yards.

    “I do not look at statistics,” Johnson said. “I just try to do whatever the team needs to win games. Nothing matters but this team being successful.”

    Leland Stein can be reached at or Twitter @LelandSteinIII 

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