Calvin Johnson gets the better of Aqib Talib
The Bucs were torched by Calvin Johnson last season in a game played without ace cornerback, Aqib Talib. Sunday, the Bucs, with Talib very much in the lineup, were torched by Johnson again.
There can only be one conclusion.
“He’s obviously a great player,” Bucs coach Raheem Morris said.
Johnson had six catches for 88 yards, but among his half dozen grabs were a pair of touchdowns, including a 36-yard strike down the sideline and a stunning 1-yard touchdown catch with Talib draped all over him.
Talib, who declined interview requests, didn’t go home empty-handed. He grabbed a ball deflected by TE Will Heller in the first quarter and went 28 yards to the end zone for Tampa Bay’s first touchdown, giving the Bucs a 10-6 lead. But Johnson grabbed the belt in this heavyweight fight. All week, both teams looked forward to the featured matchup.
“Calvin wanted to shut (Talib) down all day, and (Talib) wanted to prove himself against a great receiver,” Stafford said.
While the Bucs don’t typically have their cornerbacks swap sides – Talib is the left cornerback and Ronde Barber is the right cornerback – Sunday’s plan called for Talib to shadow Johnson everywhere he went. Talib was the Bucs’ best hope against a receiver who had 10 receptions for 152 yards last December in Tampa.
All things considered, Talib didn’t perform horribly. He mis-timed a jump on the 36-yard touchdown, missing Stafford’s pinpoint throw by mere inches. Talib should have had deep help from safety Sean Jones, but Jones bit on a seam route that never materialized. And Johnson had to make a tiptoe catch while falling out of bounds on the second touchdown, on which Talib was in great position.
“Calvin is tough to deal with,” Bucs CB Ronde Barber said. “We all know that. There were some opportunity throws and he went up and got them. We were in defenses that limit that, and he beat us. So it’s on us.”