National Football League
PRESEASON
12345
REGULAR SEASON
12345
678910
1112131415
1617   
PLAYOFFS
123PBSB

 
      === Johnson breaks Rice's mark; Falcons secure No.1 seed in NFC ===
 
 Detroit,  MI (Sports  Network) -  Detroit wideout  Calvin Johnson  entered the
 record  books on Saturday, breaking Jerry Rice's mark for most receiving yards
 in a season in NFL history.
 
 But  as has been the case for most of the season, his stellar performance came
 in yet another loss.
 
 Matt  Ryan  threw four touchdown passes,  and the Atlanta Falcons clinched the
 NFC's top seed with a 31-18 win over the Lions at Ford Field.
 
 Ryan was 25-of-32 for 279 yards and tied Steve Bartkowski for the most passing
 touchdowns in a single season in franchise history with 31. Bartkowski set the
 record in 1980.
 
 Roddy  White  caught two  of the scores  and finished with  153 yards on eight
 receptions  for Atlanta  (13-2), which  produced 17  points off  three Detroit
 turnovers.
 
 Johnson  made 11  grabs for 225 yards,  upping his season total to 1,892. Rice
 had 1,848 yards in 1995 with San Francisco.
 
 "It's an accomplishment that took a lot of work," Johnson said.
 
 It  wasn't  the only  NFL record  the player  known as  "Megatron" broke as he
 became  the first  player to  record  at least  100 receiving  yards in  eight
 straight games.
 
 Johnson  surpassed a  mark set  by  Charley Hennigan  in 1961  and matched  by
 Michael Irvin in 1995.
 
 "I've  coached for  19 years in the  NFL. I've never seen a better player than
 Calvin Johnson," said Detroit coach Jim Schwartz.
 
 Matthew Stafford completed 37-of-56 passes for 443 yards with one interception
 for the Lions (4-11), who have lost seven in a row.
 
 Detroit was on the move at the end of the third quarter, but the drive stalled
 at the Atlanta 2-yard line. Much to the fans' displeasure, Jason Hanson kicked
 a  20-yard field goal to trim the Lions' deficit to 21-16 in the early moments
 of the fourth quarter.
 
 Atlanta   had  registered  only  one  first  down  on  its  two  third-quarter
 possessions and faced a 3rd-and-4 from its 28-yard line. Ryan moved the chains
 by throwing off his back foot and finding White for 15 yards.
 
 Ryan  then completed passes of 12, 14, 9 and 14 before hooking up with Michael
 Palmer for a 1-yard touchdown.
 
 On  the brink  of history, Stafford tried  to hit Johnson on the first play of
 the ensuing drive. Asante Samuel picked off the pass, however, and Matt Bryant
 drilled a 20-yard field goal with 3:05 remaining.
 
 Stafford  and Johnson  would try it again  on first down. This time, the throw
 was  on  the mark. Johnson ran  a crossing route  and passed Rice on a 26-yard
 reception.
 
 The  Lions eventually  turned the ball over  on downs at the Atlanta 2. On the
 next play, Michael Turner was tackled in the end zone for a safety.
 
 Needing  a quick  score, Stefan Logan inexplicably took a knee after receiving
 the free kick at his 4-yard line. And the blunder sealed the win for Atlanta.
 
 On  Detroit's  second drive of  the game, Johnson caught  a short toss on 3rd-
 and-2 from the Lions' 18 and rumbled 49 yards down the right sideline.
 
 Any  momentum from  the big gain was immediately wiped out when Mikel Leshoure
 lost a fumble on the next play.
 
 Facing  a 3rd-and-1 from the Detroit 44, the Falcons cashed in the turnover as
 Ryan went deep down the right sideline to White for a touchdown.
 
 The  Lions answered before  the end of the first quarter with a 34-yard Hanson
 field goal, but Atlanta countered on its next drive.
 
 Ryan  directed a nine-play march that ended with tackle Sam Baker making a key
 block down the field to spring White for a 39-yard score on a screen pass.
 
 The  Falcons were  opportunistic again, capitalizing on a Johnson fumble later
 in  the second  quarter. Ryan connected with Julio Jones, who did a tremendous
 job  of dragging  his right foot while making  the grab in the back of the end
 zone for a 16-yard touchdown.
 
 Hanson was good from 38 yards prior to halftime, and Leshoure capped Detroit's
 first second-half drive with a 1-yard touchdown run.
 
 "Kind  of started slow  and didn't play the type of football that we'd like to
 in the third quarter," said Falcons coach Mike Smith.
 
                                   Game Notes
 
 Johnson  tied Irvin's NFL record for 100-yard receiving games in a season with
 11  ...  White recorded  his sixth  straight season of  80-plus catches and at
 least 1,000 receiving yards. He became the sixth player at his position in NFL
 history  to accomplish the feat ... Leshoure has eight rushing TDs in the past
 eight games.
 
 
 
 12/23 01:19:32 ET