He caught just one pass for 2 yards before departing with an injury the last time the Lions faced the Steelers, back on Oct. 11, 2009 at Ford Field in Detroit. It’ll be a different Calvin Johnson that arrives this Sunday at Heinz Field.
“It’s young Randy Moss Minnesota Vikings-like scary,” Coach Mike Tomlin assessed.
Johnson’s contribution to the Lions’ 21-19 win last Sunday in Chicago was befitting of a 6-foot-5, 236-pound wideout known as “Megatron.” To assign statistics to it: six catches for 83 yards and two touchdowns.
His season totals of 904 receiving yards, nine scores and a 17.1 average per catch in eight games are impressive enough. The Cowboys found out what Megatron is truly capable of when he caught 14 passes for 329 yards (an NFL record for a regulation game) and a touchdown on Oct. 27.
Suffice it to say the Steelers are well aware of what they’ll be up against.
The injured linebacker spent the 2009 season with the Lions, which was Johnson’s third year in the NFL:
“He’s so big and he can run like AB (Steelers wide receiver
“That’s one of those guys you don’t like to look at because he’s truly a Megatron. Calvin Johnson, hands down, in my opinion, just watching him being a fan, he can do it all. He’s special.”
The Steelers’ cornerback is no stranger to following an opponent’s best receiver all over the field. He has watched enough video this week to anticipate a challenge unlike any he’s undertaken previously:
“Taking slants to the house, in-cuts to the house, throwing it deep to him, jumping up and catching it at the high point with two or three guys around him. That’s what makes Megatron Megatron.
“He’s in a league of his own. There is no comparison. Six-foot-five, 230. Usually, those guys play tight end. When you have a guy like Megatron, I mean, his nickname says it for itself. ‘Hey, what’s your nickname?’ Megatron. ‘What? Let me see why they call him Megatron.’ I start watching tape. ‘Oh, that’s why they call him Megatron.’
“He’s one of a kind, man, point blank, period. You go back to the sideline, somebody gets mad at you, you just tell them, ‘You go out and there and do it.’ When you have somebody 6-5 who is high-pointing the ball and you got guys 5-8, 5-9, 6-foot trying to high point, too, there you go. Route running, going across the middle, turning 5-yard passes into 80-yard touchdowns, that’s what people really don’t get to see until you actually match up against him.”
The Steelers’ backup running back was hosted by Johnson on a recruiting visit to Georgia Tech:
“He’s a good dude, very quiet, real laid back. Don’t take his quietness for anything, because he’s a competitor. I’m not surprised by what he’s done at all since he’s been in the NFL. I’ve seen him practice before. We work out together sometimes. He’s a freak of nature.
“Even when he’s out there on the field, you don’t see too much emotion from him but he’s going to give it everything he has.
“I’ve seen him do some things that I’ve never seen anybody do in my life. He was all the way up in the air and he adjusted his whole body because the ball was short. He dropped his right hand down, almost like a 360-degree turn and caught the ball with his opposite hand.
“It’s something you can’t really describe, what he did. Everybody was like, ‘Did he catch that?’ Everybody just got quiet and just started staring at each other. It was nothing for him. He makes everything look easy.”