Published: December 10th, 2012 | Tags: Aaron Rodgers, Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Greg Jennings, Lambeau Field, Madden Curse, Matthew Stafford, Sunday Night Football, Will Ferrell
Historically, players who are featured on the cover of the “Madden NFL” franchise experience significant drops in their offensive production. NFL.com is tracking the performance of Calvin Johnson and the Detroit Lions over the course of the 2012 season because we believe Johnson will debunk the Madden curse.
The Detroit Lions traveled to a snowy Wisconsin in week 14 to face the Green Bay Packers on Sunday night. With the Lions all but eliminated from the playoffs. divisional pride was at stake, and Calvin Johnson was closing in on Jerry Rice’s all-time receiving yardage record so there was a lot to on the line. Not to mention the Lions hadn’t won in the state of Wisconsin in 21 years including the post-season.
Let’s get to the action and see if Johnson continued his curse-busting 2012 season.
The Lions receive the opening kick-off. Will the snow slow down Megatron? Doubtful.
On third and 4, Matthew Stafford finds Johnson for a gain of nine yards and a first down.
Given the conditions, the Lions tried to establish a ground game early, feeding the ball to Mikel Leshoure, who responded by helping move the Lions right down the field on the opening drive.
On the same drive, Mike Thomas takes an end-around all the way down to the 15-yard line. Due to injuries, Detroit was forced to bring in extra help at wide receiver.
Stefan Logan takes a pass from Stafford down to the three. Detroit is knocking on the door early. Third and one from the 3-yard line and the Green Bay defense doesn’t budge.
Fourth and inches and Detroit elects to go for it… with a Matthew Stafford bootleg for a touchdown!
Lions take the lead, 7-0.
Green Bay takes over and quickly starts moving the ball down the field when DuJuan Harris gains 11 yards on the first play.
After a quick pass to Randall Cobb, and a few Alex Green runs the Packers make it into Detroit territory, where Aaron Rodgers quickly finds Cobb again for 21 yards. Cobb is no Calvin Johnson, but he sure is making a statement this year.
With the Packers threatening, Lawrence Jackson sacks Rodgers and forces a fumble, recovered by Stephen Tulloch. First down, Lions.
After the turnover, Stafford finds Tony Scheffler for 13 yards. Joique Bell and Mikel Leshoure each grind out short runs to pick up another first down for the Lions.
Stafford looks for Johnson down the sideline, but Tramon Williams has him covered up.
Stafford tries again, but Williams is still all over Megatron.
A short pass to Scheffler converts another third down for the Lions.
It was a quiet first quarter for Megatron, but the Lions possessed the ball for over 11 minutes. A good way to beat Aaron Rodgers is to keep him on the bench.
Calvin Johnson first quarter stats – one catch, nine yards.
On the second play of the second quarter, Kris Durham reels in this stellar one-handed grab to move the Lions into the red zone.
Looks like Durham has been paying attention to Calvin Johnson in practice.
Two plays later Tony Scheffler grabs a 3-yard touchdown pass from Stafford.
It’s 14-0, Lions early in the second quarter.
Rodgers finds Greg Jennings on the first play of Green Bay’s next possession for 27 yards. Hello, old friend.
A holding penalty brings back what would have been a 9-yard run for Alex Green. Down 14 points, Green Bay can’t afford costly penalties like that.
Green gets that yardage back, and more two plays later on a 12-yard scamper.
Rodgers misses John Kuhn on the following third down pass, which sets up a 49-yard Mason Crosby field goal.
14-3, Lions with 10:56 left in the half.
The Lions take back over, and Stafford finds Will Heller on first down for a gain of five. Mikel Leshoure runs for four more, setting up a third and one, which the Lions convert with another pass to Heller.
With the Lions driving, the snow causes its first turnover as Stafford loses control of the football attempting a quick pass. Mike Daniels scoops it up and rumbles 43 yards to the endzone.
The big guy could have used a lift on his Lambeau Leap, though.
On the first play after the kick-off, Calvin Johnson snares his second reception of the night for a first down.
Two plays later, Stafford tries to find Johnson deep again, but guess who was there to break it up? Tramon Williams.
Faced with third and six, Stafford dumps it off to Joique Bell who moves the chains for the Lions.
Mikel Leshoure picks up another first down on the next two runs. At this point, Detroit had already rushed for 113 yards as a team.
Looking for Kris Durham on the next play, Stafford instead finds Sam Shields for a Green Bay interception.
Having Shields return to the line-up was a relief for the Packers, who have battled injury problems all year.
A few poor plays, and a false start penalty force Green Bay into a third and fifteen situation. Randall Cobb shakes a few defenders, but can’t get all of the yards.
Tim Masthay records the games first punt with just over a minute left in the half.
On the ensuing drive, faced with third and 5, deep in their own territory, the Lions badly needed a first down to prevent Rodgers from getting the ball back with a chance to score.
So Stafford and Megatron connect on a leaping grab for a first down, keeping Rodgers off the field, and preserving the Lions 14-10 lead going into halftime.
Calvin Johnson first half stats – three catches, 31 yards.
The Packers come out of halftime with a lot more energy, and use their no huddle offense to march right down the field.
Aaron Rodgers capped off the drive with this 27-yard scramble for a touchdown.
Rodgers was also able to record his first “Discount Double Check” of the season, as that was his first rushing touchdown.
The Packers took their first lead of the game, 17-14, with Rodgers’ touchdown.
Faced with a third and seven early during their next possession, Stafford finds Johnson deep for 19 yards and a first down. An unnecessary roughness penalty on Morgan Burnett moved the Lions into Packers territory.
A short run by Leshoure, and another 6-yard grab by Johnson moved the Lions closer, but ultimately they had to settle for a Jason Hanson field goal to tie the game at 17.
A short drive by Green Bay stalled after a few first downs, forcing them to punt and give the ball back to the Lions.
However, the Lions were unable to move the ball on their next possession, and punted it right back to the Packers.
On the first play for the Packers, Rodgers finds Randall Cobb, who makes a spectacular one-handed catch before gaining 24 yards.
Nice catch, kid. Unfortunately for Cobb, his efforts netted the Packers zero points, as Mason Crosby missed a 51-yard field goal attempt at the end of the drive.
Johnson helps Detroit overcome a holding penalty on their next possession with an 11-yard grab. He hauled in another 5-yarder before the quarter came to a close.
Before the fourth quarter action started back up, Will Ferrell came out to lead the crowd in singing “Roll Out The Barrel.” Good times were being had by all at Lambeau Field in spite of the weather.
The Lions opened the fourth quarter with the ball, but were unable to convert on third down. Jason Hanson missed a 51-yard field goal that would have given the Lions the lead.
On the following drive, Green Bay ran the ball on every play, even getting Ryan Grant into the action, who resigned with the team this week.
What is this, 2009?
They capped off the drive with a DuJuan Harris 14-yard touchdown run.
Greg Jennings celebrated with the rookie after his first ever touchdown.
The Packers managed to bottle up Megatron on the Lions next possession, as he wasn’t even targeted once. The Lions only gained 18 yards before punting it back to the Packers.
Time for Ndamukong Suh and the defense to go to work.
After a deep incompletion, and a run for negative yardage, Rodgers found Cobb for 38 yards and a first down.
The Packers drive stalled there, however, as Rodgers missed an open Greg Jennings in the endzone. They settled for a Mason Crosby 41-yard field goal to take a two score lead with 4:02 left in the game.
It would be a tough comeback for Stafford and Johnson, but not impossible.
They went to work early, connecting twice, each time for 13 yards and a first down.
However, after four straight incompletions the Lions turned the ball over on downs.
The Lions defense stymied the Packers running game, and sacked Rodgers on third down to give the ball back to their offense with around 2 minutes to play.
Unfortunately for the Lions, 10 points was just too much to overcome with only two minutes to play and no timeouts. They gave it their all, and Johnson reeled in a few more catches, but all they could muster was one Jason Hanson field goal.
The Packers recovered the Lions onside kick attempt, and that was the game.
Final score: 27-20, Packers.
Calvin Johnson stats – 10 catches, 118 yards
It was another difficult loss for the Lions, who have now lost three straight games after leading by more than 10 points and are virtually out of playoff contention. Calvin Johnson continues to close in on Jerry Rice’s receiving record, however, so there’s still reason for the Lions to keep fighting and end Johnson’s impressive season with a bang.