DETROIT – The much-anticipated matchup between Detroit receiver Calvin Johnson and Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman never really materialized Sunday.
Facing Johnson, who earned the nickname Megatron because of his other-worldly ability on the field, Sherman changed his twitter handle this week to Optimus Prime, Megatron’s nemesis in the cartoon Transformers.
Johnson was targeted eight times and finished with three catches for 46 yards in the Lions’ 28-24 victory.
“I mean, you see his numbers – they speak for themselves,” Sherman said. “He was a non-factor. So, you know, that’s how that went.”
Sherman did get tangled up with Johnson on a wide receiver screen to Titus Young that gained 8 yards in the third quarter. Johnson tore off Sherman’s helmet on the play.
Johnson also dropped a sure touchdown pass on the final drive of the game, with Sherman fist-pumping the air as the ball bounced off Johnson’s hands and sailed out of bounds in the back of the end zone.
But Young bailed out Johnson by catching the winning score four plays later.
With Johnson one of the biggest receivers in the NFL at 6-5, 236 pounds, league observers were interested to see how 6-4 Seattle cornerback Brandon Browner and 6-3 Sherman would match up.
“It wasn’t anything crazy,” Johnson said after the game. “You know, we got single coverage. We just couldn’t get the ball out. You know, it was nothing crazy they did today.”
While Seattle did a nice job containing “Megatron,” he wound up serving as a diversion while Detroit’s other receivers broke loose against the Seahawks.
Young finished with a game-high nine catches for 100 yards and two touchdowns. Tight end Brandon Pettigrew totaled seven catches for 74 yards. And rookie Ryan Broyles finished with three catches for 37 yards, including a 6-yard touchdown.
“I thought before the game even started we were going to do OK against him,” Browner said. “But it’s the other guys that got off. We can’t focus on one player, because we tend to forget that they’ve got stars like Titus Young. … I thought we would match up well with him. He’s a big guy. We’re big guys. It’s the little guys that we’ll have problems with, because they can get in and out of breaks faster than we do.”
Seattle’s defense struggled to get pressure on Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford, finishing with two sacks and seven quarterback hurries on 49 pass attempts.
Seattle defensive end Chris Clemons said that Stafford followed a similar blueprint of other teams that have been successful throwing the ball against Seattle, like Green Bay and New England, relying on the short passing game and getting the ball out fast.
“He did throw it quick,” Clemons said. “I think they went to the same situation Green Bay did on us in the second half – quick throws, getting the ball out of his hands and not letting him hold onto the ball.
“We’ve got to get our hands up and get those balls down. Make him hold the ball, or at least pump it so we can get back there to him.”