'Megatron' transforms Lions into mega-surprise
Updated: 2011-10-10 08:02
BEIJING - The moment the ball left quarterback Matthew Stafford's hand, everyone knew exactly where it was going. In an instant, it sliced through the agony of Minnesota Vikings fans and landed right in wide receiver Calvin Johnson's hands - the most dangerous place in football these days.
There is nothing bigger than this for the Detroit Lions, winning where they have no business winning, and winning like it is actually becoming a habit. And there is no one bigger, no one more difficult to stop, than their mighty 6-foot-5 wide receiver Calvin Johnson, known ominously as "Megatron," in honor of the hulking villain from the "Transformers" series.
"They call him Megatron for a reason," said Vikings cornerback Chris Cook.
The sturdy receiver has always possessed freakish talent and athleticism. This year, he finally has a quarterback capable of throwing him the ball. Stafford, who has been sidelined frequently since being picked first overall in the 2009 draft, is finding his groove with a strong arm and a ton of confidence, threading passes into tiny windows for Johnson to snare or heaving them far downfield for his big receiver.
What can mere men do against Megatron? Witness Johnson transforming into demolition mode in the second half of the Lions' incredible 34-30 comeback win against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. Detroit erased a 24-point deficit in the second half with defensive turnovers and a pair of touchdown receptions - including the game winner - by Johnson.
As the Lions continue to turn heads with their 4-0 record - tying the Green Bay Packers for first in the NFC - a lot of the credit goes to Johnson. He has tied an NFL record with four consecutive two-touchdown games, racking up 321 yards on 24 receptions. With eight scores in four games, Johnson is on pace for video game numbers of 1,284 yards and an eye-popping 32 touchdowns.
In the process, the Lions became the first team to rally from 20-plus point deficits in consecutive victories, and their 24-point comeback at Dallas matched the largest one on the road in league history.
Johnson has been nagged by injuries since being drafted No. 2 overall in 2007. He has still been very productive - 33 touchdown catches in his first four years - but it wasn't until last season that he flourished into a Pro Bowl player.
They're both rolling now, creating a buzz about the Lions that has people in the football world raving about the once maligned team.
Detroit is 4-0 for the first time since 1980.
Hall of Fame receiver Cris Carter, who held the record of four straight games with two touchdowns until last Monday, criticized Johnson before the season by calling him an elite receiver only in video games. It didn't take long for Carter to change his mind.
"There is a king in every crowd," said Carter on ESPN Radio, "and right now, Calvin Johnson is the king of the NFL as far as wide receivers go."
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