By: Mike Feld
Calvin Johnson doesn’t want to categorize the next three Lions games as “must win” contests.
However, he doesn’t mind putting the upcoming stretch in the “love to win” division.
During his weekly chat with Stoney, Bill and Sara, the Lions wide out stopped short of saying Detroit is desperate to win its upcoming contests with Green Bay, Houston and Indianapolis.
But No. 81 admitted there is a burning desire to claim all three of the team’s looming matchups, especially considering all of them are at home.
“I would love to have these three wins, especially where we are this time of the season,” Johnson said. “We definitely need to come out with a good quarter this quarter of the season. Definitely need to get some dubs.”
At this point, a strong third quarter of the season is not just desirable, but necessary.
With a 4-5 record, another loss would all but eliminate the Lions from playoff contention – or at the very least would force the team to win out the rest of the season.
While the team is taking things on a weekly basis, Megatron couldn’t help but admit the team is thinking about what it has to do in order to extend its season.
“We come into every week thinking about just that week and not down the road,” Johnson said. “But at the same time, it can creep into your mind that the playoffs are looming with every game.”
It will be an uphill battle if the Lions want to accomplish their goals. The next three games are against some of the best opponents a team could find right now, as the Packers (6-3), Texans (8-1) and Colts (6-3) all rank in the top-10 of overall records.
It does help, however, that Johnson is coming off the best two games he’s had all season – including a 12-catch, 207-yard performance against the Vikings on Sunday.
It also helps that Megatron won’t have to face two of the Packers’ best defenders in defensive back Charles Woodson and linebacker Clay Matthews.
Johnson admitted that losing those two players is a blow for Green Bay.
“C Wood is playing the safety now,” Johnson said. “He’s the quarterback of that defense. He does a heck of a job out there. He’s a Hall of Fame-like player. Then Matthews, at the same time, he’s having a hell of a year.”
Another player who is having quite the year – although blooming late – is none other than Johnson. But as an emerging superstar, he’s dealing with a target on his back – and worse.
It appeared during Sunday’s loss that Minnesota players may have been doing a bit of head hunting, so to speak. Johnson downplayed the severity of the situation, but even he wasn’t so sure all of the blows he took were intended to be clean.
“Originally, I didn’t think [they were headhunting],” Johnson said. “From seeing some of the hits, I took some shots to the head. The second one across the middle down there by the goal line [when] I caught the ball up the middle, that wasn’t necessary. [It was] launching with your head. I caught that big one over the middle – you really couldn’t see it, maybe – but I caught a little bit into the back of the head on that one, too.
“I’m not going to call it dirty, but it could be seen as that.”
CJ did an admirable job playing through the adversity on Sunday, but it should come as no surprise. It’s something he’s been asked to do all year.
For Johnson, it’s quite simple: take what the defense gives you.
“Really just taking advantage of the opportunities given,” Johnson said. “That’s kind of how you have to be; that’s kind of how you have to approach things. You never know how many opportunities you’re going to get when teams shift that safety over your head with that coverage. So I’m just trying to be opportunistic this year.”