Lions’ Johnson ‘plowing through’ rough patch

ALLEN PARK, Mich. — Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz called Sunday’s 28-24 victory over Seattle his team’s best offensive performance of the season.

What’s surprising is that it happened with such little production from star receiver Calvin Johnson.

Johnson appears to be hampered by a knee injury that forced him to miss some practice time last week.

“He’s plowing through,” Schwartz said Monday during his weekly news conference. “He didn’t practice a few days last week.

“It’s midseason in the NFL. It’s stuff that you just deal with. He can find a way to deliver even if he is hobbling a little bit.”

For the second straight game, Johnson went to halftime without a catch. He’s been held to three receptions each of the last two games for a total of 80 yards.

There have been some uncharacteristic drops, too.

Johnson was running wide open across the middle against Chicago last Monday and inexplicably failed to catch the ball on the opening drive. He had two more dropped passes against Seattle, including one in the end zone in the last minute that easily could have cost the Lions the game.

Asked after the game if he’s physically banged up, Johnson said, “I’ll be alright. You’re good right now after the win, but you’ll feel it all on Monday.

“It’s a grind. I got some great teammates that made some great plays around me. You just have to play through it, you know?”

Johnson still hasn’t caught a touchdown pass from starting quarterback Matthew Stafford through seven games. His only TD came on a throw by backup Shaun Hill.

Nevertheless, the Lions’ offense was extremely productive against one of the league’s top defenses.

Stafford completed 34 of 49 passes (69.4 percent) for 352 yards, three touchdowns and one interception against the Seahawks.

The Lions were 12-for-16 in third-down conversions (75 percent) and 3-for-3 scoring touchdowns in the red zone.

They also scored touchdowns on three 80-yard drives.

“Whether it’s Calvin or somebody else, they still count for seven,” Schwartz said. “We’re not playing fantasy football, trying to get players a certain number of stats. We’re just trying to win.

“I don’t want to make any apologies for not having Calvin have 25 catches for 500 yards in a game.

“That’s a very, very tough defense. There’s not many people who move the ball on those guys. There’s not many people that were able to score touchdowns the way that we did, throw the ball the way that we did. I thought we had our best offensive performance of the year against a very good defense.”

Even when he’s not catching passes and scoring touchdowns as he normally does, Johnson still can put his mark the game as a decoy.

Stafford said that’s exactly what happened on the winning touchdown with 20 seconds remaining. The Seahawks’ defense loaded up on Johnson, and Stafford went to Titus Young on third-and-goal from the 1-yard line.

Stafford also threw his only interception when Johnson was on the sideline for a play. That wasn’t a coincidence, according to Schwartz.

“Generally, that’s a play that gets a lot of attention to where Calvin is,” Schwartz said. “When he wasn’t there, it clogged up the rest of the play.

“He has a tremendous impact on the game. It’s always positive, whether or not, he’s making catches.

“Sometimes you can try to force it and end up making mistakes. I think Matt did a good job balancing those and getting the ball to the guy that was open.”

Johnson, who wasn’t available for comment Monday, has said he’s not frustrated by the situation, even though he’s not producing like his reputation would suggest.

“He knows football,” Schwartz said. “There’s a difference between trying to get you the ball and forcing balls in. He just wants to win.”


Safety Louis Delmas, who missed much of the second half because of an injured left knee, underwent tests Monday and was described by Schwartz as “day-to-day.”

It’s the same knee that required surgery back in August and forced Delmas to miss the first four games.

“He’s sore,” Schwartz said. “I don’t know if I’d classify it as a reinjure, (but) it’s his sore knee that’s been bothering him through training camp and the season. Obviously, the surgery was able to alleviate some of it (the pain).”

But, apparently, not all of it, which is a bad sign for the Lions. Delmas is the heart-and-soul of the defense.

“He’s a hard-worker, a tough guy,” Schwartz said. “We’ll try to work through it.”

… Cornerback Jacob Lacey (concussion) is expected to return to practice this week. His status for Sunday’s game at Jacksonville won’t be determined until closer to game day.

… Schwartz said he wasn’t certain when safety Amari Spievey (concussion) will be back in practice. “He’s still got some hurdles to clear,” Schwartz said.

… Cornerback Drayton Florence, who has been on the injured list since suffering a broken forearm in the second game, will be back in practice. However, Florence is not eligible to return to the active roster for a couple weeks.