NFL Grades Week 8: Calvin Johnson reminds Dez Bryant who's tops

By Will Brinson | NFL Writer

For a while on Sunday it looked like Dez Bryant might get the best of Calvin Johnson. But in the end Megatron ruled supreme and reminded the young Cowboys wideout why he's the best receiver in the game hands down.

Johnson's numbers are slam-dunk evidence of that. Megatron finished with 14 catches, 329 yards -- the second-highest, single-game total in NFL history -- and a touchdown. It could've been even more as he was tackled twice inside the 5-yard line.

Bryant had a shot at winning the battle. Even with Calvin piling up the stats, Dez was grabbing everyone's attention with a catch that will qualify as the catch of the year, pinning the ball against his helmet with a superb grab on an end zone toss from Tony Romo.

It didn't help Johnson that two of his catches ultimately led to turnovers -- he dropped a ball that Sean Lee snatched out of the air and then later fumbled a catch that the Cowboys would recover.

Dez was having his own problems too, though. On the sidelines he was caught by cameras screaming at everyone in sight.

The good news for Bryant is complaining worked: while Romo targeted Terrance Williams on the next drive (it resulted in a long touchdown catch off a slant), Bryant was the recipient of a touchdown grab the possession after that should've put the game away.

It wasn't Dez' fault that the Lions stormed back. That's on the Cowboys defense. But Dez put himself out there as saying he can do anything that Calvin can before this game. He looked like he might win the battle. But when the game was on the line, Stafford lasered in on Megatron and Calvin Johnson did what Calvin Johnson does: take over games and destroy everything in his path.

Bryant's a superstar in the making and one of the best wideouts in the NFL. But Calvin Johnson's on a totally different level and he showed as much Sunday.

TeamGradeAnalysis
Seahawks 14, Rams 9
C+Seattle didn't look pretty -- at all -- on Monday. But they won on the road in the division. That's critical, especially for a team that needs homefield advantage. Their offensive line is a major, major concern because of injuries right now. The Rams running all over them is an issue as well.
C-Terrible work in the red zone by St. Louis. Zac Stacy looked pretty spectacular most of the night. Why didn't they run late? Kellen Clemens threw a pair of picks but he wasn't that bad considering the circumstances. Robert Quinn and Chris Long were absolute terrors all night long for Russell Wilson.
Packers 44, Vikings 31
AAside from a few moments after an early Cordarrelle Patterson return TD and a plunge by Adrian Peterson, the Packers dominated this game. Aaron Rodgers continued dominating in the Metrodome, Jordy Nelson was superb and Eddie Lacy has finally given the Packers a run game.
DNot a good showing for Minnesota, their second-straight blowout loss in prime time. Christian Ponder looked overwhelmed, the defense was hapless and by the end Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth were joking about an Adrian Peterson trade and a Brett Favre comeback.
Raiders 21, Steelers 18
DPittsburgh headed into Oakland with a shot at winning three straight games and seriously getting back into the playoff race. Instead the defense was burnt badly by Terrelle Pryor on the ground and the offense failed to
B+Terrelle Pryor didn't have the most efficient passing day but he put up large numbers on the ground thanks to the longest run in Raiders history (93 yards). The Oakland defense was incredibly stout against the Steelers too.
Bengals 49, Jets 9
FThe Jets rollercoaster continues -- New York hasn't won or lost a game in a row. But maybe this should count for two losses? Geno Smith tossed a pair of pick sixes and the Jets defense was gashed all day long by Andy Dalton. Really nice pick from Mo Wilkerson but overall a pretty embarrassing effort for the Jets.
AStatement game from Andy Dalton, eh? The Red Rocket tossed five touchdown passes against the Jets, shredding one of the better defenses in the NFL at home in a Cincinnati blowout. The Bengals defense completely bottled up the Jets when it mattered.
Cardinals 27, Falcons 13
D-Too little too late for the Falcons who were in never in this game against Arizona. Steven Jackson rushed for 6 yards on 11 carries (not a typo) and Matt Ryan threw four picks, giving him nine (9!) in his last two games against the Cardinals.
B+Andre Ellington is starting to emerge as a major draft steal for Steve Keim and ran for 150+ yards on minimal carries Sunday. Larry Fitzgerald, he of the trade rumors, got in the end zone. And the Arizona defense had a pick party on Matt Ryan.
Broncos 45, Redskins 21
C+Strong start for Mike Shanahan's crew in his return to Denver, but what an ugly finish. Robert Griffin III looked sloppy much of the day and got repeatedly battered in the pocket (Kirk Cousins didn't have much more fun either).
B+The Broncos were down 21-7 early and looked like they might get stunned again. Then Peyton Manning and the Denver defense rallied and turned this into an absolute shellacking. Von Miller made a massive difference as Denver pressured Robert Griffin III all day.
Lions 31, Cowboys 30
C+This feels a little too familiar doesn't it? The Cowboys blew another late game they should've won. Tony Romo was good, completing 14-for-30 passes for 206 yards and three touchdowns. Dez Bryant was both great and terrible, blowing up on the sidelines and the field.
B-Hard to pick a grade for this one considering how dead the Lions looked at times. But what a job by Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson -- who finished with the second-most receiving yards in NFL history -- to storm back and pull out a win.
49ers 42, Jaguars 10
B"B" is for "business" and the 49ers did just that, rolling over to London and hammering the Jaguars. Frank Gore dominated, Colin Kaepernick ran and threw well and the 49ers put this game away faster than you could fry fish.
D-Another non-F for sympathy purposes, since the Jaguars never stood a chance in this game. It looked like Florida State-N.C. State from Saturday, honestly. Two teams in the same league, with an entirely different level of available talent.
Chiefs 23, Browns 17
B-Strong game from Josh Gordon, even if it was on a minimal number of catches. Jason Campbell was actually pretty impressive considering just how overmatched he should've been in this game. He kept Cleveland competitive.
C+8-0 is 8-0 even if it wasn't pretty. Pete Prisco thinks they might be the "worst 8-0 team in NFL history." Nice job by Dexter McCluster, and Jamaal Charles keeps piling up big-yardage games. But this wasn't a dominant effort by any stretch.
Patriots 27, Dolphins 17
C+What the hell happened here? The Dolphins were dominating this game and led the Patriots 14-3. Tom Brady was totally bottled up and Miami looked to be coasting. Instead the Dolphins kept getting in their own way and botched a potentially huge AFC East victory.
B-Ugly, ugly, ugly. But a victory nonetheless. Tom Brady struggled out of the gate and finished 13-for-22 for 116 yards, one touchdown and one pick. The defense picked it up in the second half after a bad effort in the early going.
Saints 35, Bills 17
CThaddeus Lewis was good for a small stretch, especially considering that he took a massive beating from Rob Ryan's unit for much of the game. Stevie Johnson/Scott Chandler were strong in the passing game too, and the defense, which sacked Brees four times, held up before a bit until the secondary eventually caved.
A-Drew Brees threw for five touchdown passes, Jimmy Graham appears to be just fine (two scores) and Kenny Stills keeps emerging as a potential young weapon. The defense put a pounding on Thaddeus Lewis.
Giants 15, Eagles 7
C-A win is a win, but Eli Manning couldn't get into the end zone Sunday. The Giants scored just 15 points -- thanks, Josh Brown! -- and it helped that Michael Vick was hurt and Matt Barkley was Matt Barkley. Two ugly wins in a row still count, and the Giants are creeping into pack.
FChip Kelly's offense has produced exactly three points of offense in the past two weeks. That's a major problem regardless of who's under center: Matt Barkley, Nick Foles and Michael Vick.
Panthers 31, Buccaneers 13
A-This was a trap game and the Panthers didn't flinch. They blew out another bad team in impressive fashion, winning their third-straight game. Cam Newton's playing the best football of his career, DeAngelo Williams/Mike Tolbert are running well and Charles Johnson/Greg Hardy were terrors in the backfield. This team's rolling right now.
D-50 throws for Mike Glennon? Yeesh. Mike James looked good in the first half but didn't see the rock later. The defense couldn't hold up and the offense kept making mistakes as well (see: multiple third-down botched snaps). Only sympathy keeps this from being an F.
 
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