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 stayed on the road in week 15 as they faced the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium, where Calvin Johnson aimed to continue his outstanding season, and close in on Jerry Rice’s all-time receiving record.
The Lions kicked off to the Cardinals, whose offensive struggles continued as they were forced to punt after back-to-back penalties stalled a decent drive.
Mikel Leshoure gets things going with a nice run on first down for the Lions.
Matthew Stafford tries to find Megatron on the next play, but it’s well covered by Patrick Peterson.
Another incompletion meant a punt for the Lions.
DeAndre Levy got the ball right back for the Lions by intercepting Ryan Lindley.
Unfortunately, the Lions weren’t able to capitalize and were forced to punt again.
Both teams traded punts, as no one was able to get much going offensively.
On the Lions final possession of the quarter, Stafford found Johnson on two of the first three plays, racking up 19 yards and a first down in the process
Calvin Johnson first quarter stats – two catches, 19 yards.
On the same drive, Calvin Johnson lays out, but can’t bring in Matthew Stafford’s deep pass.
So they try again and Johnson gets tackled at the 1-yard line. Mikel Leshoure punched it across the goal-line to give the Lions the lead, 7-0.
The Cardinals were forced to punt yet again, but a nice play by Michael Adams forced a fumble on the return, which he then recovered at the 5-yard line.
Beanie Wells fought his way in for a touchdown for the Cardinals to tie the game.
7-7, with 9:18 left in the half.
Stafford looks to Johnson early on the Lions next drive, and Johnson records his 100th catch of the season.
Mikel Leshoure kept things rolling along with a couple big runs.
But penalties unraveled the drive, and the Lions were forced to punt. They got the ball right back on a Cardinals punt, but from his own endzone Matthew Stafford threw an interception to Patrick Peterson.
Stafford was trying to find Calvin Johnson on the play too. The Cardinals quickly make the most of the opportunity, as Beanie Wells finds the endzone for the second time.
With little time left, Stafford tried to engineer a scoring drive, but made a costly error and threw his second interception of the day. This one, however, was returned for a touchdown.
Calvin Johnson first half stats – four catches, 39 yards.
The Lions received the kick-off to start the second half, but Calvin Johnson and company were only able to muster eight yards before having to punt.
Not the way they wanted to start the half.
Ryan Lindley was able to move the Carindals into field goal range, where Jay Feely converted a 51-yard attempt.
Time for Megatron to get in gear.
Faced with an early third down, Matthew Stafford connected with Calvin Johnson, who was able to break a tackle and move the chains.
Later on the drive, Johnson converted a big third and one, and broke a few more tackles to pick up 24 yards.
The Lions ultimately settled for a field goal, making it a two score game.
The Cardinals managed to eat up a bunch of time on the game clock, but ultimately punted it back to the Lions before the end of the quarter, leaving plenty of time for a comeback.
Both teams went back and forth with good defensive stands, forcing a number of punts to start the quarter.
Finally, the Lions started putting a drive together.
With 8:50 left in the fourth quarter, Calvin Johnson crossed the 100-yard mark for the 7th straight game as he reels in a 30 yard pass from Stafford.
Stafford and the Lions pushed the drive all the way inside the 5-yard line, but on fourth down Matthew Stafford threw his second pick six of the game.
Not willing to quit, the Lions received the kick off and came out swinging. Megatron managed to record his tenth catch of the day, but Stafford was sacked on fourth down and the Lions turned the ball over, forcing Johnson to watch from the sideline.
Running the ball to ice the clock, Beanie Wells put the game even farther out of reach for the Lions with this 31-yard touchdown run.
The Lions got the ball back, with 3:39 left, but were unable to get a first down. There was no chance of a magical fourth quarter comeback here.
Final score: 38-10, Cardinals.
The Lions struggles continued on Sunday, but as always the silver lining was Calvin Johnson inching closer to Jerry Rice’s record for receiving yards. After his 10 catch, 121 yard performance Johnson became the first player in NFL history to have back-to-back 1,600-yard receiving seasons, and now has 1,667 on the season, leaving him 181 yards shy of Rice’s record with two games to play.