Calvin Johnson suited up for the Detroit Lions for all nine seasons of his NFL career. Named to six Pro Bowls and four All-Pro teams, the second overall pick of the 2007 NFL Draft quickly established himself as one of the league’s best receivers.
The 6-foot-5-inch wideout corralled 12 touchdown receptions—tied for the league-lead—in his sophomore season in 2008. Johnson’s 12 scores were particularly impressive, given that the Lions only threw 18 TDs all year and used five different quarterbacks in their abysmal 0-16 season.
Things got better for Calvin Johnson and the Lions upon the arrival of quarterback Matthew Stafford, the No. 1 pick in the 2009 Draft. Johnson made his first Pro Bowl in 2010, the first of six consecutive selections, collecting 1,000+ yards receiving in each season.
Calvin Johnson led the NFL in receiving from 2011-12. Particularly noteworthy, Johnson set an NFL-record with 1,964 receiving yards in 2012. He also ranked No. 1 in receptions with 122.
Calvin Johnson set other historic marks in 2012. He posted eight consecutive 100-yard receiving games—the first wideout to accomplish this feat. Furthermore, he accumulated the most receiving yards in a five-game span (861) and the most consecutive games with 10+ catches (4).
Calvin Johnson's 2012 Game Log
1,964 Receiving Yards pic.twitter.com/g92Jm0t8OZ
— RussellJClay (@RussellJClay) August 28, 2019
At the conclusion of the 2015 season, Calvin Johnson retired at the age of 30. Johnson amassed 731 receptions for 11,619 receiving yards and 83 touchdowns over 137 career games. Remarkably, he topped 100 yards receiving 46 times. Johnson was named to the NFL’s 2010 All-Decade Team.
In the spirit of reviewing ‘Megatron’ Johnson’s career, let’s break down his five best games.
5. Career-high 3 TDs defeat Redskins
When: Oct. 31, 2010
Stat line: 9 receptions, 101 yards, 3 TDs
Calvin Johnson produced two 3-touchdown games in his career. The more memorable outing came Halloween 2010 versus the Washington Redskins. The superstar caught two fourth-quarter TDs after the Redskins took a 19-14 advantage.
Stafford threw a go-ahead 7-yard TD to Calvin Johnson midway through the fourth. The Lions’ lead was short lived—as they allowed a kickoff return TD moments later—forcing Johnson to come up clutch again. He did just that, corralling another lead-changing touchdown, this time on a 10-yard pass from Stafford with 3:22 remaining.
The Lions led 26-25 after the TD, before adding a two-point conversion and later scoring a defensive touchdown in the victory.
4. Thanksgiving Day dominance by Calvin Johnson
When: Nov. 27, 2014
Stat line: 11 receptions, 146 yards, 2 TDs
Playing at Ford Field in their annual Thanksgiving contest, the Lions crushed the Chicago Bears. Calvin Johnson was the star for Detroit, which overcame an early 14-3 hole before outscoring Chicago 21-0 in the second quarter.
Calvin Johnson caught both of his touchdowns during the Lions’ second-quarter scoring barrage. Stafford connected with Johnson on a 25-yard score early in the period, and then threw another TD to his favorite target with under a minute left in the half.
It was an outstanding Turkey Day for Johnson, who reached the 10,000 career receiving plateau.
Calvin Johnson has over 10,000 receiving yds in his career in 115 games. He's the fastest NFL player to reach that mark, passing Torry Holt.
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 27, 2014
Calvin Johnson holds the NFL record for most receiving TDs on Thanksgiving (11).
3. Breaks Jerry Rice’s single-season receiving record
When: Dec. 22, 2012
Stat Line: 11 receptions, 225 yards
Calvin Johnson entered Week 16 of the 2012 season needing 182 yards to break Jerry Rice’s single-season receiving yardage record. Facing off against the Atlanta Falcons, Megatron dominated to the tune of 225 yards to easily shatter Rice’s all-time mark. He officially passed Rice after hauling in a 26-yard pass from Stafford with 2:57 remaining.
— Lions Pride (@LionsPride) February 5, 2016
As the home crowd gave Johnson a standing ovation, he ran to the sideline and handed the ball to his father, Calvin Johnson Sr. The Falcons won the game, but Johnson’s moment will be remembered for generations to come.
2. Last-minute TD rallies Lions past Raiders
When: Dec. 18, 2011
Stat line: 9 receptions, 214 yards, 2 TDs
Ahead 27-14 with 7:47 remaining, the Oakland Raiders appeared in control versus the Lions. But Stafford and Johnson were lights out on the team’s final two drives, which were time-consuming and resulted in touchdowns.
Johnson, who collected a 51-yard TD in the first, was unstoppable in the waning moments of the contest. The Lions’ final drive started at the 2-yard line with 2:14 left trailing 27-21. Stafford relied heavily on Johnson, who had a 21-yard reception and a 48-yard catch on the drive. He later drew a pass interference penalty from Raiders cornerback Stanford Routt at the 6-yard line. This set up the winning touchdown pass from Stafford to Johnson with 39 seconds remaining.
1. 329 Yards fuel comeback win vs Cowboys
When: Oct. 27, 2013
Stat line: 14 receptions, 329 yards, 1 TD
Johnson delivered a performance for the ages versus the Dallas Cowboys, erupting for career-highs in catches (14) and yards (329).
Throwback Week 6, 2013: Calvin Johnson torches the Cowboys catching for 329 yards and of course the fake spike by Stafford to win the game. pic.twitter.com/s38733eaM2
— Lions Daily (@CatchLikeCalvin) March 31, 2020
It was the second-highest receiving total in NFL history, trailing only Flipper Anderson’s 336-yard output in a 1989 overtime game. Anderson tallied 40 yards in OT, so Johnson’s numbers are the most ever in a four-quarter contest.
The Lions won 31-30, erasing a 10-point deficit in the final seven minutes of action.
Calvin Johnson caught a 2-yard TD in the first quarter. He was unable to find the end zone the rest of the afternoon, but he more than made his mark in this come-from-behind victory. He hauled in a 22-yard reception with under a minute left, putting the Lions one yard from pay dirt. On the ensuing play, Stafford did a fake spike and lunged over a pile of linemen for the game-winning TD.
— Detroit Lions (@Lions) September 27, 2018