Calvin Johnson breaks single-season receiving yards record

By Will Brinson | NFL Writer
Johnson made his mark on NFL history Sunday. (Getty Images)

Calvin Johnson etched his name in NFL history on Saturday night when he broke the single-season receiving record, besting Jerry Rice's 1,848 yards in 1995.

The man known as Megatron entered the second half -- of Week 16 no less -- needing just 65 yards to break Rice's record. He quickly put to rest any questions about breaking the record with a week to go, catching 51 yards worth of receptions on the Lions two third-quarter drives.

It's crazy that Rice -- the all-time NFL G.O.A.T. -- gave up that record. But it's not annoying to see him lose it to a guy like Johnson, a notion Rice agrees with.

"Well, you never want your record to be broken," Rice said during a television interview Saturday. "But if anyone is going to do it, I would prefer Megatron to try and do it."

Johnson, still just 27 years old, destroyed opposing secondaries at an alarming rate from Week 9 of the NFL season on, piling up eight-straight 100-yard receiving games. Three of those went north of 150 yards and his Week 10 game against Minnesota was over 200 as well as Saturday night against Atlanta.

He's tracking incredibly well with respect to Rice's career numbers: Rice had 7,866 receiving yards in his first six years (92 games played). After his record-breaking catch, Johnson has 7,743 yards through (just about) 91 games played. Another standard big game from him in Week 17 and he'll pass Rice's six-year mark.

"I believe records are meant to be broken," Rice said Saturday. "I'll be the first one to congratulate this guy because I know what he stands for. He's a hard worker. He got the major contract and he's still hungry, and he wants to prove to everybody that he's the best receiver to play the game."

I attempted to explain Megatron to Mrs. Brinson on Saturday during the game against the Falcons. The best thing I could come up with was "he's like the tallest, fastest, strongest and highest-jumping NFL receivers all meshed into one." But it's accurate, right?

The dude is unstoppable everywhere: he made a 49-yard "catch" after coing across the middle on a crossing route, put on his after-burners and juked a whole gaggle of Falcons. Matthew Stafford is immensely talented, and Larry Fitzgerald's struggles point out how important a decent quarterback is, but the things that Johnson does in the air and with his hands while playing football don't look human.

And he's likely to go, regardless of where the Lions end up this season, somewhere no receiver has gone before: 2,000 yards. Rice's record is the measuring mark, but 2,000 receiving yards is the holy grail.

"I think this guy is not only trying to break my record, but he's trying to get to 2,000 yards," Rice said. "I tried to get to 2,000 yards and was not successful at it. I think he's going to do it."

It'll take some work, but because of the monster Week 16 game that Megatron had in Week 15, he's definitely set up to cross into unknown territory. And it's because he's the best all-around receiver in the game.

Mega makes catches everywhere: the deep route, the slant, insane grabs on the sideline, dangerous crossing routes, whatever. He's easily the most complete and dominant receiver in the NFL today (this was actually a debate a year ago!) and there's a very good reason why he's the new single-season NFL record holder for receiving yards.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our RSS Feed watch Pro Football 360 daily at 3 p.m. ET and NFL newsletter. You can follow Will Brinson on Twitter here: @willbrinson.

 
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