Bears keep Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson under control again
BY ADAM L. JAHNS email@example.com
Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson (81) runs a pass pattern during the second quarter of an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears at Ford Field in Detroit, Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012. (AP Photo/Rick Osentoski)
DETROIT — With every catch, the cheers for Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson got louder and louder as he approached history. In the end, though, there weren’t enough catches to make. The Bears and cornerback Charles Tillman limited him again.
Johnson had five catches for 72 yards in the Bears’ 26-24 victory Sunday. Johnson, who broke Hall of Famer Jerry Rice’s single-season record for receiving yards Dec. 22 against the Atlanta Falcons, needed 108 yards to become the first player to reach 2,000 receiving yards. He finished the season with 122 catches for 1,964 yards.
‘‘It’s hard to shut down Calvin Johnson completely,’’ coach Lovie Smith said. ‘‘We wanted to get a lot of people on him, roll the coverage up [and] double-team him as often as we could.’’
The Bears held Johnson to three catches for 34 yards
Oct. 22 at Soldier Field.
‘‘You don’t want him to go off and get 150 or 200 yards,’’ cornerback Tim Jennings said. ‘‘We wanted to minimize his yards as best we can to give us a better chance to win. Charles did a good job holding him under 100 yards and holding him under 2,000 yards.’’
Johnson downplayed the milestone afterward, saying he wasn’t disappointed not to reach it and saying it was ‘‘a hell of a feat getting to where we got to.’’
‘‘There’s always room to get better, though,’’ Johnson said.
With safety Chris Conte out with a pulled hamstring, second-year man Anthony Walters made his first career start. Walters missed two tackles in the first quarter on running back Mikel Leshoure, whom he called ‘‘a shifty back.’’
‘‘I’m excited for the win, but I’m disappointed in how I played,’’ Walters said. ‘‘I’m not going to sugarcoat that. I don’t think I played well or to my potential.
‘‘But [the missed tackles] were good for me for my focus. The coaches, they stayed with me and kept the confidence in me.’’
Walters also was saw receiver Kris Durham split him and Jennings for a 25-yard touchdown with 12 seconds left in the first half.
‘‘They ran four seams . . . and it’s just a tough play for me, for the defense,’’ Walters said.
Defensive tackle Henry Melton was active after missing the previous two games with a collarbone injury. He caused a stir leading up to the game by calling the Lions ‘‘dirty’’ and singling out center Dominic Raiola, who later called Melton ‘‘a coward.’’
‘‘I don’t think we said anything to each other,’’ a laughing Melton said afterward. ‘‘We had a couple of stare-downs. That was about it.’’
With the Bears’ offense stalling, kicker Olindo Mare had a busy day, making 4 of 5 field goals. He made kicks of 33, 40, 28 and 20 yards but missed a 43-yarder wide right in the second quarter.
‘‘It was just a bad kick,’’ Mare said. ‘‘It was disappointing, and you can’t blame not kicking all year on it because I made those kicks in pregame and all week. It was just a bad swing.’’
† As expected, linebacker Brian Urlacher was inactive because of his hamstring injury. The other inactives were running back Armando Allen, linebacker Blake Costanzo, offensive tackle Cory Brandon, defensive tackle Nate Collins and quarterback Josh McCown.