Calvin Johnson has his way with Bucs
The Bucs knew Detroit receiver Calvin Johnson was going to be a factor today.
When is he not?
But to say the 6-5, 230 former No. 2 overall pick had his way against the Bucs on Sunday is probably an understatement.
“(No.) 81 dominated us today if you weren’t paying attention,” Bucs CB Ronde Barber said. “We didn’t do anything to stop him. We had an (extra) guy leaning toward him all day. Give him credit. He’s a heck of a player. But he made some unbelievable catches. He’s a talented guy and he beat us.”
Johnson tallied 152 yards on 10 catches, including clutch receptions on the final play of regulation and in overtime’s lone possession. Johnson caught a 23-yard pass on the final drive of regulation that helped position the Lions to tie, then his sideline-straddling 12-yard pass in overtime provided a huge third-down conversion that extended a winning drive that might otherwise have ended with a punt.
Afterward, the Bucs wondered what, if anything, they should have done differently.
“I would probably get more hands on him,” said rookie CB Myron Lewis, who was matched up with Johnson on several occasions. “That’s the key, getting hands on him. When he gets a free release, he’s good off the press. And once he gets the ball in his hands, he’s pretty shifty.
“In this defense, you always have to get your hands on him. But on some of his catches, he caught us in zone coverage, and you’re really not going to press in zone coverage. You’re going to play off of him.”
Said Barber: “I think the plan in the second half was just get in his face and beat him up. He’s not a great route runner. If you give him some room, he’s most dangerous when you give him the ball after the catch and he plays jumpball with you. You saw it at the end of the game.”
Second-year CB E.J. Biggers had responsibility for Johnson most of the day, with Barber, Lewis and Elbert Mack matched against him periodically.
But none of them seemed to have any answers.
“They have a ridiculously tough dude to deal with,” Barber said. “And we didn’t deal with him very well.”