Calvin Johnson shows why Lions made him No. 2 pick in the draft

Updated: October 22, 2007, 5:36 AM ET
Associated Press

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Quietly, some have been wondering if the Detroit Lions made a mistake by drafting Calvin Johnson instead of Adrian Peterson.

No one will likely be having that discussion this week.

Johnson scored on a 32-yard run midway through the fourth quarter to help Detroit hold off the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a 23-16 win Sunday, and he had two catches for 37 yards.

"Megatron is a different athlete," Lions receiver Roy Williams said. "He's bigger and faster than me.

"They took him No. 2 for a reason."

The 6-foot-5, 239-pound receiver, dubbed "Megatron" by Williams, scored a touchdown in each of his first two games as Detroit won both.

He hurt his back in Week 3 at Philadelphia, limiting Johnson in two games, forcing him to miss one and leading a few to suggest the Lions should've drafted Minnesota's sensational rookie running back instead of Johnson in April.

Bucs coach Jon Gruden, who wanted to move up and take the former Georgia Tech star, would not be among those second-guessing Detroit's selection.

"You saw the talent that Calvin Johnson brings to the field," Gruden said. "He's a rare guy."

Johnson is also a quiet and humble guy, predictably deflecting credit for his jaw-dropping end-around that made some standout defenders look helpless.

"All the guys blocking for me did a great job on that run," he said.

Detroit (4-2) pulled within a game of idle Green Bay in the NFC North, heading into a road game against the Chicago Bears.

"You look ahead to them right now," Johnson said.

Tampa Bay (4-3) lost a chance to move past idle Carolina in the NFC South, drawing the ire of wide receiver Ike Hilliard.

"There's not a team that's established itself as the team to beat in the NFC," Hilliard said. "We dropped the ball on this one."

In fact, Jeff Garcia dropped two. Garcia, who played in Detroit for one forgettable season two years ago, botched a handoff in Lions territory in the first quarter. He also mishandled a snap on a first-and-goal when the Bucs were a yard away from pulling within two points early in the fourth.

"Usually the teams that lose inflict those mistakes upon themselves," Gruden said.

After Garcia's second fumble, Johnson broke a few tackles on a spectacular run to give the Lions a 23-7 lead to cap a 93-yard drive.

"He stiff-armed one of the best linebackers in the league (Cato June); made another guy (Tanard Jackson) miss; and then dragged one of the NFL's leading tacklers (Barrett Ruud) into the end zone," Detroit quarterback Jon Kitna said.

But the Bucs hung around.

Garcia connected with Maurice Stovall on a 4-yard pass, then after the 2-point conversion failed, Tampa Bay got the ball back on a unique onside kick. The Bucs bunched up near the hash marks and Matt Bryant's low kick ricocheted off a Lions player, and Torrie Cox recovered it.

Bryant's 48-yard kick with 1:04 to go pulled Tampa Bay within seven, but its rally ended when Casey FitzSimmons recovered an onside kick.

"I'm proud of the team with the way they competed until the end of the game," Gruden said.

Garcia finished 37-of-45 for a season-high 316 yards with two TDs. He has thrown 270 passes without an interception, including attempts in the postseason last season for the Eagles, for the longest active streak.

He completed 18 straight passes in the first half, setting a franchise record for consecutive completions in a game, against a defense that gave up the short pass all day.

"They weren't going to allow one play to be the difference-maker," Garcia said. "They were going to force you to earn it, and we weren't able to earn it."

Game notes
Bucs KR/PR Mark Jones (knee) and WR Michael Clayton (ankle) left the game with injuries, but Gruden didn't know how severe they were. ... Detroit's Idrees Bashir was knocked out of the game with a rib injury. ... Army sergeant Phillip LaBonte was awarded a Purple Heart during the game.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

This story is from's automated news wire. Wire index