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Calvin Johnson overpowered at his own game? Andre Johnson's secret cancels a Lions Thanksgiving edge

Andre Johnson walking off
All the fans wanted a piece of Andre Johnson after his 273-yard day. Photo by © Michelle Watson/
Calvin Johnson catch
Andre Johnson walking off
News_Chris Baldwin_managing editor_arms crossed

The People didn't want to let Andre Johnson free. And who could blame them? This was the vintage Andre, the receiving beast who can take over any game at any time.

So after Johnson turned a bubble screen into an overtime-ending, 48-yard touchdown pass and leaped into the stands on Sunday, the People held on. Tight.

"Nobody said anything," Johnson says. "They just didn't let me go."

This week it's fantasy football players — and fans of offensive football in general — who won't want to let go of the Houston Texans' game. For Andre Johnson gets to run routes on Thanksgiving against a Detroit Lions secondary that's more suspect than Keyser Soze while Calvin Johnson — Megatron or Andre Johnson 2.0 if you will — faces a Texans secondary that's liable to be missing its best cover corner (the hamstring hobbled Johnathan Joseph).

 Megatron's set the standard for the last several seasons, earning the video game covers and the cool kid cred. 

Another shootout in the controlled environment of Ford Field is hardly out of the question.

Best receiver wins?

Until Andre Johnson took Jacksonville to school, delivering a doctorate course in route running, physicality and dominance, few outside of his own locker room would have put No. 80 up with the Lions' Johnson. Not anymore. Megatron's set the standard for the last several seasons, earning the video game covers and the cool kid cred.

But with Andre looking and feeling like he's all the way back (he's been warning for weeks this was coming), suddenly even wide receiver — the one position which seemed to scream ADVANTAGE DETROIT in this national TV showcase — isn't such a clear edge for the 4-6 Lions. Andre Johnson's secret is out (he feels better at 31 then he has in years) and hell hath no fury like a dominant wide receiver reborn.

"It brings me back to the college days at Miami," says Texans center Chris Myers, who played with Andre Johnson at The U. "A 200-yard game . . . it seemed like Andre did that every game back then."

Detroit's offense is built for and almost dependent on Megatron doing that every game now. Calvin Johnson leads the NFL in receiving yards by a comfortable margin and still there's talk that he's having a disappointing year. The touchdowns haven't been coming (only three heading into Thursday for a player who scored 16 last season), the Lions offensive coaches are arguing on the sidelines and a fellow wide receiver (problem child Titus Young) has been sent home by the team and told to not show up to work.

Of course all that frustration could disappear quickly if Calvin Johnson gets to go against Kareem Jackson for an entire afternoon.

"He's a heck of a player," Andre Johnson says of Detroit's game changer. "He goes up and gets the ball so well.

 "It brings me back to the college days at Miami. A 200-yard game . . . it seemed like Andre did that every game back then." 

"He's one of my favorite players."

Andre and Calvin did a photo shoot together a few years ago, but besides that the two premier receivers haven't spent much time together. Both men like their privacy, both are among the hardest workers in league.

They just perform. And make big plays.

"I like the physicality he brings to the game," Calvin Johnson says of Andre. "That’s one thing that whenever I see there’s something about being physical out there and making your presence known . . . he does that."

At 6-foot-5, 236-pounds, Calvin Johnson often overpowers cornerbacks himself, winning fights for the ball when Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford throws it up high and counts on Megatron being the one to come down with it.

He sees openings in Wade Phillips' vaunted Bulls On Parade defense too, chances for him to put his big hands all over the game.

"From watching film we see things that we can go at them with — so definitely," Calvin Johnson says when asked about the Texans defense. "There are going to be some opportunities there.”

Wouldn't it be something if Andre Johnson had the most opportunities of all though? That's no mere fantasy. Not after Sunday.

"When Dre gets on a roll, he's hard to stop," Myers says. "He can carry a team for several weeks."

Myers saw it a decade ago in Miami. The rest of America is due for a reminder on turkey day.

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