Johnson set the new record at 1,892 receiving yards in one season
The Lions wide receiver gained 225 receiving yards against the Atlanta Falcons
He surpassed Jerry Rice's old record of 1,848, which has stood since 1995
After the play, Johnson went to the sideline to give his father the ball and a hug
In a mega moment for the man called Megatron, Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson broke Jerry Rice’s single-season record for receiving yards Saturday night against the Atlanta Falcons.
Johnson set the record in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, snagging a pass from Matthew Stafford for a 26-yard gain. After the play, Johnson brought the ball to the Detroit sideline to give to his father, Calvin Johnson Sr., while the crowd erupted in a roaring ovation.
“I don’t think I said anything to my dad when I gave him the ball,” Johnson said after the game. “I just gave him a hug. But when I think back on it, it’s a special moment.”
Entering Saturday’s game in Detroit, Johnson needed 182 receiving yards to surpass Rice, who had a total of 1,848 yards in the 1995 season when he was with the San Francisco 49ers. Johnson finished the night with 225 yards, and now has 1,892 on the season.
Rice congratulated Johnson with an in-stadium message on the Ford Field video board.
Johnson said he knew when he caught the pass that he broke the record.
“The guys were telling me on the sideline I’m like 4 or 5 yards away,” Johnson said. “So it was just like one reception and I’m there, so I’m like, ‘shoot, let’s go ahead and knock this thing out.’”
Johnson broke two other NFL records Saturday. He had more than 100 yards receiving for the eighth straight game, passing Charley Henningan in 1961 and Michael Irvin in 1995. Johnson set another league mark with 10 receptions for four consecutive games. Johnson had 11 receptions Saturday.
Following the game, Stafford said if someone had told him at the beginning of the year that someone would break Rice’s record this season, he would point to his star wide receiver.
“Nobody goes about their business as professionally as he does,” Stafford said. “We’re lucky to have a guy like that.”
Despite the history made by Johnson, the Lions lost 31-18, their seventh straight defeat. They are in last place in the NFC.
The Falcons, meanwhile, clinched home-field advantage through the NFC playoffs with their win Saturday night.
Johnson now will try to reach a number that was once unthinkable: 2,000 receiving yards in a single season. The Lions finish the season at home against the Chicago Bears.
But for now, despite the Lions’ loss, Johnson can still put the record in perspective.
“It’s an accomplishment that took a lot of work, so you can’t take that thing away,” he said.