Calvin Johnson had his way with the Dallas secondary on Sunday.
Mega-Hundreds: As in the hundreds of yards (yes, hundreds) receiver Calvin Johnson had Sunday. His 329 yards against the Cowboys would put him 70th in the NFL in receiving yards this season -- if that was the only game he played. Instead, he’s played in seven games and has an NFL-leading 821 yards on 47 catches. Johnson often draws double coverage, but part of the key to his success Sunday was Dallas’ decision to play a lot of single coverage on Johnson. Do that and quarterback Matthew Stafford will find Johnson over and over again, as the Cowboys learned.
Stafford’s decision: Yes, he’s had fourth-quarter comebacks before, and yes, he’s made big plays before. But with the way Detroit’s season has been going, with what the Lions are trying to do, there was a different level reached in the final minute against Dallas. Had Stafford not converted the fake-spike sneak, Detroit would have struggled to get one more play off and it could have been the second straight week in which the Lions suffered a devastating final-seconds loss at home. It could have been a play, frankly, that potentially derailed the rest of Detroit’s season. Instead, it was a play that could boost the franchise and its quarterback for a long time to come.
Durham’s emergence: He’ll never be the flashy guy, and as Kris Durham told me after Sunday’s game, if he can get 100 yards in a game, that’s a pretty good day, but he’s become a reliable target for Stafford when it matters. He now has three or more catches in five straight games, and his 40-yard grab on Detroit's final drive, in which he used a slight, slick move to beat the Dallas cornerback to make some room for himself, was massive. For a player who didn’t appear to be a lock to make the team out of training camp, he has put himself in a position where he could be a valuable member of Detroit’s offense for a while.
Fairley well: This was lost in a lot of the last-minute insanity of Detroit’s win, but Nick Fairley had a productive game for the Lions. He was a big factor early on in the game, twice pressuring Tony Romo into third-down incompletions and punts. He had three pressures on the day and showed yet another glimpse of what Detroit hoped to get out of him when it selected him in the first round of the 2011 draft. He was a good complement to Ndamukong Suh and showed surprising athleticism for his size as he ran at Romo.