Johnson, Revis offer an exciting matchup

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Darrelle Revis might look at his opponent Sunday, Calvin Johnson, and wonder how some of the things he accomplishes are possible.

It’s a question a lot of people could ask about the Detroit Lions receiver, the single-season record holder for receiving yards and the consensus pick as the top receiver in the game. There are times when the man with the nickname of a machine, Megatron, does things that appear to defy humanity, or at least reality.

“I mean, it’s almost like your ideal receiver,” Revis said. “It’s like he’s a create-a-player on 'Madden' where you put overall is 99, got the fastest speed on there. His strength and everything is maximized to another level. I just think all of those, man, makes him stand out even more. He’s a massive receiver who can run, who can catch and who can block.”

Yet Revis, who will likely draw Johnson on Sunday when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers face the Lions, is one of the few cornerbacks who has stopped him. The last time Revis and Johnson faced each other during the regular season was on Nov. 7, 2010, and Revis and the New York Jets held Johnson to one catch for 13 yards.

Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford targeted Johnson only four times in that game, perhaps an even bigger sign of the job Revis did on him. Johnson has been held to one catch just one time since -- and not since the 2010 season.

“There were some opportunities there,” Johnson said of that day. “We just weren’t able to take advantage of them. That’s about it. It was a good matchup, though, both on my side and on his side. We both had some wins but, obviously, statistically, you know.”

Statistically, it was one of the least productive games of Johnson’s career. Revis said Wednesday he mostly followed him around in man-to-man coverage during the game.

Did he think he won the matchup that time?

“I mean, one catch for 13 yards,” Revis said. “What do you think?”

Things have changed since that day. Revis tore his left ACL last season, and is still not completely back from the injury. Johnson, meanwhile, has put up four straight 1,000-yard seasons, including in 2010.

Johnson’s timing and familiarity with Stafford has grown since then. Stafford has matured as a passer and Johnson, somehow, has gotten better as a receiver. That has helped in Johnson’s ascendancy, although Johnson wouldn’t say how he has improved since the 2010 season.

“I’m getting targets,” Johnson said. “[Stafford] believes that I’m going to go up and get the ball, and if I don’t get it, nobody else is going to get it for the most part. That’s how we practice and that’s just the confidence he has in me.”

So it could be a little more difficult for Revis to hold Johnson to just one catch again. Pittsburgh did a good job on Johnson in the second half Sunday, holding him without a catch and to only three targets. Johnson said the Steelers changed some things in how they dealt with him in the second half, but wouldn’t elaborate.

Johnson was complimentary of Revis on Thursday, saying Revis sees the ball “like a receiver” and can catch it. So it should be one of the more difficult matchups Johnson will see this season.

Revis knows he shut down Johnson before, but he isn’t using that as a barometer of being able to do it a second time.

“I’m not worried about even that stat or trying to better that stat,” Revis said. “That was years ago and we’ll see.

“I have a lot of respect for Calvin and what he’s been doing in the league, and I’m sure he has a lot of respect for me as well. I don’t know what the outcome is going to be Sunday.”