Carolina Panthers

Detroit Lions’ Calvin Johnson leaves Ron Rivera with ‘wow’ moment

Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera had one reaction to watching Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson’s 164-yard, two-touchdown performance Monday night against the New York Giants.


Johnson, one of the league’s best receivers, is Carolina’s problem this week as the Panthers host the Lions at 1 p.m. Sunday at Bank of America Stadium. But of course, it’s not just Johnson that Caorlina has to worry about.

“You look at what (running back) Reggie Bush brings to the table, you look at that conglomerate of tight ends, they got three good ones that bring something different to the table,” Rivera said, “and then Golden Tate coming over from Seattle. He’s a guy who understands big games, big situations, and he made some plays as well. This is a solid football team and it starts with the quarterback.”

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford’s cadre of offensive weapons was on full display Monday night in the 35-14 win against the Giants. But it was his familiarity with Johnson, the receiver known as “Megatron,” that stood out the most.

After being pushed outside the pocket midway through the first quarter, Stafford pointed to an open spot in the back of the end zone. He threw across his body, forcing Johnson to turn his hips quickly and lay out for the ball.

“I try to know his limitations as best I can, even though there are hardly any, and as far as where you can put a ball and where he can go get it,” Stafford told Charlotte reporters on a teleconference. “It was really impressive the way he changed direction and went and got that ball. I tried to put it in a safe spot where either he catches it or nobody does.”