By Brady Henderson
Richard Sherman was successful in his attempt to contain Calvin Johnson. But as the Seahawks' brash cornerback noted after Seattle's 28-24 loss to the Lions on Sunday, Detroit's other receivers made the plays instead.
"He wasn't a factor. He hasn't been much of a factor for them this season," Sherman told Jen Mueller. "But the rest of their receivers stepped up, their running backs stepped up and they did a great job."
Johnson didn't have a catch in the first half and finished with three for 46 yards. He dropped two passes that were catchable for many receivers, not just those with the spectacular catching radius Johnson possesses. One of those drops came in the end zone, four plays before fellow receiver Titus Young scored the game-winning touchdown on a 1-yard catch with 20 seconds remaining.
The Seahawks held Calvin Johnson to three catches for 46 yards. (AP photo)
"It was kind of a busted play. Stafford was running around in the pocket and [Young] just slipped behind all of us and got open. It was a good play by him," Sherman said.
Rookie receiver Ryan Broyles had the Lions' other touchdown catch, his coming on a 6-yard pass in the first quarter. Tight ends Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler combined for 120 yards on 11 catches. Stafford was 34 of 49 for 353 yards, completing passes to eight different teammates.
Sherman said that wasn't because of any extra attention Seattle paid to Johnson.
"Not really. We've got big DBs, we've got big players, we've got big-time players on the edge and on the inside, so we just account for him like we would account for everybody else," Sherman said.
"That's kind of what happened today. That's why he wasn't able to get very much other than – he got one big play, but I thought we did a great job for the most part."
The matchup between Sherman and Johnson got plenty of attention during the week after Sherman changed his Twitter name to Optimus Prime, a reference to the "Transformers" character whose arch-rival is Megatron, which not coincidentally is Johnson's nickname.
Johnson didn't seem too worked up about it, but one of his teammates did. Center Dominic Raiola went so far as to curse Sherman and call the move disrespectful.
It got even more entertaining.
Peter Cullen, the actor who provides the voice of Optimus Prime, called Sherman in character to wish him luck against the Lions and Megatron, according to Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times. Sherman is a "Transfomers" fan, so he was delighted and admittedly "a little star-struck" to receive the call. He asked Cullen to leave a voicemail so he could play it back for his teammates.
"Richard, this is Optimus Prime," the message said. "When you see Megatron, you must tell him ... 'One shall stand, one shall fall.' Wish you the best. Roll out!"
Aside from the encouragement, the Seahawks could have used some advice on stopping the check-down passes that the Lions continually completed to their running backs. Joique Bell, Mikel LeShoure and Kevin Smith combined for 49 receiving yards on eight catches. It was Bell's 12-yard catch that put Detroit at the 1-yard line, setting up the winning score.
"You've got to take your hat off," Sherman said. "[Stafford] found a weakness in the defense and went after it."