Found December 26, 2012 on
Sports Blog Net:
On a Monday night back in October, the Chicago Bears improved their record to 5-1 and somewhat silenced the critics who thought they had not played top-level talent before facing the Detroit Lions.
In that Monday night contest, cornerback Charles Tillman held All-Pro wide receiver Calvin Johnson to just three catches for 34 yards. The following week, Johnson was again shut down by the Seattle Seahawks secondary; but since then, he has posted eight straight 100-plus yard games and broke the single-season receiving yards record previously held by Jerry Rice.
The Bears' playoff hopes hang in the balance this Sunday and the Lions will do anything they can to keep a divisional rival from making the playoffs.
Offensively, the Bears know they need to improve, but given the fact that they will be facing off against a Lions defense that has struggled all season, they will be more concerned with stopping them from what they do best: move the football.
Tillman played arguably one of the best games of his career against Johnson in the previous meeting, which will likely push Johnson to play one of his best games of the season.
His touchdown totals have been down this season, hauling in just five, but there is no doubt he is the best receiver in the game right now. The Bears will have to find a way to shut him down like they did in October and it all starts with Tillman.
His success against Johnson was predicated on his ability to play with perfect technique for much of the game, highlighted by his pass deflection in the end zone on a first and goal from the one-yard line. He mostly played him with single coverage for the majority of the night, forcing the Lions to become stagnant on offense and more susceptible to turnovers.
An injury to safety Chris Conte has his availability in question for Sunday, meaning unproven Anthony Walters would likely take over his position (h/t Chicago Sun-Times). Although they used Tillman a lot in single coverage, the loss of Conte in the lineup may force the Lions to attempt to move the ball more down field, particularly with Johnson.
An injury to rookie Brandon Hardin in the preseason and one to veteran Craig Steltz that placed him on injured reserve on December 11th will put Walters in a position to prove his abilities on something other than special teams. The Bears likely won't want to ask too much of him if it indeed becomes his first start, making it all that much more important for Tillman to slow down Johnson.
If Tillman can once against shut down Johnson with single coverage, he will then make quarterback Matthew Stafford more likely to force throws and to make mistakes. Despite other variables being needed for the Bears to make the playoffs this season, the most important is getting a win in Detroit, and it likely will not be possible unless they can shutdown the best wide receiver in the league.
Matt Eurich is a contributor to Bearsbacker.com. Follow Bears Backer on Facebook and Twitter for up to the minute news about the Bears. Also, check out Matt’s work on BleacherReport.com and follow him on Twitter @MattEurich.
BEST OF MAXIM
Four days after breaking the NFL single-season record for receiving yards, Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson was named as a starter to the NFC Pro Bowl team.
Johnson becomes the first Lion to be a Pro Bowler in three consecutive years since running back Barry Sanders was selected 10 straight years from 1990-99.
Johnson needs 108 receiving yards Sunday against Chicago for 2...
The smile has rarely left Calvin Johnson's face since he broke Jerry Rice's NFL record for receiving yards in a single season against Atlanta on Dec. 22.
Don't let Johnson's smile fool you. Underneath that cheery expression, there's a fierce competitor who wants to make Rice's accomplishments a distant second to his own effort this year.
Although the result of the game was one the Lions will want to forget, wide receiver Calvin Johnson had a game he’ll remember forever.
Detroit’s star has had one of the greatest seasons in league history, and his efforts will put #81 in the record book in more than one place. In Saturday night’s game, Johnson broke not only Jerry Rice’s single-season receiving record, but...
Lions' insider Mike Mady delves into what Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson means to the team and franchise after setting the single season receiving mark. Quotes from team members and more inside ...
Seemingly half-man, half-machine, Detroit Lions wideout Calvin Johnson — the All-Pro wideout known simply as “Megatron,” a nickname inspired by...
Even with the heroics of wide receiver Calvin Johnson it was another week and another loss for the Detroit Lions Saturday night as they fell to the Atlanta Falcons 31-18.
The Falcons swooped into Ford Field and gave the Lions fits as the NFC leaders were in control the whole game putting up 14 quick points eventually taking a 21-6 lead into halftime. It was pretty clear the Falcons...
Lions wideout Calvin Johnson is on the verge of 2,000 receiving yards this season. Even though Detroit is 4-11, the Bears will have their hands full with a motivated Megatron come Sunday.
Let’s take a look back at some of the things that stood out from Week 16 in the National Football League! So Tim Tebow gets flack for telling the coaching staff to not put him in the “Wildcat formation” after he was passed over for the 3rd string quarterback and people are complaining?
Wednesday afternoon NFL Pro Bowl rosters were announced and unsurprisingly Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson was selected as a starter for the NFC squad. During a year in which he started out slow, Megatron has been simply amazing down the stretch breaking Jerry Rice’s single season yardage record and could eclipse 2,000 receiving yards on the season this coming weekend against...
Is Calvin Johnson the NFL’s LeBron James? Bears corner back Charles Tillman compared the two today (Credit: AP Photo)
The Chicago Bears have been doing a lot of talking before this weekend’s match up with the Detroit Lions. Yesterday, defensive tackle Henry Melton said he expects dirty play from the Lions. Today, safety Major Wright criticized quarterback Matthew Stafford for...
While a second-half collapse has put their postseason hopes in doubt, the Chicago Bears managed to stay alive with a big win last weekend.
Now, another victory coupled with some help from their archrival would allow them to sneak in.
Visiting Chicago first tries to get past Calvin Johnson and the slumping Detroit Lions on Sunday before turning its attention to a late-afternoon...