By Ashley Dunkak
DETROIT (CBS DETROIT) – When Baltimore Ravens rookie safety Matt Elam called Detroit Lions superstar wide receiver Calvin Johnson “pretty old” amidst a plethora of compliments, Elam unwittingly became the center of a bit of a firestorm.
Following Elam’s comments, many expected Johnson to teach the rookie a lesson and reel off some video game plays and record-setting numbers in the Monday Night Football matchup.
While Johnson had responded to Elam’s comment, joking that he would show Elam what “old-man strength” is all about, his approach to such situations is decidedly low-key. Everyone else appeared to see the “old” description as a total affront.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh had chided reporters for their coverage of Elam’s words during a teleconference earlier in the week, and he did so again after Baltimore won.
“Matt learned a lesson in the sense of how he said things, but Matt didn’t mean anything derogatory in any way,” Harbaugh said. “What he said was – when you go back and look at it – it was a very respectful statement. He really got taken to task for it, which I think is what we do in our society. We go on the attack. We really do. I think that’s something we ought to look at ourselves about, to be honest with you. I am proud of Matt for the way he handled it.
“He learned a lesson in how he deals with media, certainly, but he did the thing he needed to do – he played,” Harbaugh added.
Elam emerged from Monday’s game with a solid performance, particularly so for a first-year player. Elam led the Ravens with 10 tackles, seven of which he made solo, and he snagged the game-sealing interception.
Johnson, on the other hand, gained 98 yards but caught only six of the 14 passes thrown to him. Two of the incompletions were uncharacteristic drops that stalled drives.
“When that happens, you just didn’t get the ball all the way,” Johnson said. “It’s as simple as that. I just have to stay on it one more second, you know?”
In short, Megatron looked mortal Monday, and he owned his mistakes.
“We had some things going there,” Johnson said, “and we had some critical third downs I think that we could have kept the drives going.”
With as well as he played Monday, Elam needed to make no such explanations.