How the Pittsburgh Steelers Can Control Detroit Lions WR Calvin Johnson

By Jeff Hartman
Calvin Johnson
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

It sounds easy. Just keep “Megatron” on the sidelines. Don’t allow the Detroit Lions‘ offense to possess the ball. I recall thinking the same thing whenever the Pittsburgh Steelers would go head-to-head against players like Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and even Drew Brees, but never has it been a wide receiver that has a team so troubled. Detroit Lions wideout Calvin Johnson is a threat against any team, but against the Steelers’ pass defense he could have a field day on Sunday at Heinz Field.

Typically the answer to stopping, or should I say slowing down, a top echelon player like Calvin Johnson is to get to the quarterback. Whenever the Steelers went up against Randy Moss and players of that magnitude the general theory was if you could get to the person throwing the football then they couldn’t’ make plays catching it. However, the reality of this season’s Steelers defense is that they struggle in pressuring the quarterback. To add insult to injury, the Lions protect Matthew Stafford extremely well. Stafford has only been sacked 10 times this season.

With that being said, the solution to slowing down Calvin Johnson doesn’t even come from the Dick Lebeau led defense, in my opinion. No, it comes from Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers’ offense. The Lions will get their possessions, but if the Steelers’ offense can possess the football for long, time consuming drives and turn those possessions into points then they will be doing their part to help the defense in stopping the Lions’ lethal wide receiver.

The biggest concern with this theory is simple: The drives must result in points. This season the Steelers have driven the football down the field only to have those drives stall or end in a costly turnover. Some will say that at the very least they are flipping field position, but against teams like the Lions that simply isn’t good enough. You need points, and if you get in the red zone you need touchdowns not field goals.

One thing is for sure, and the Steelers cannot afford to get into a shootout with the high-powered Lions offense. The offense isn’t just Calvin Johnson but also Reggie Bush running and catching out of the backfield. Stafford also is a very good quarterback. Pittsburgh will have their hands full this Sunday against the 6-3 Lions, but if the Steelers seriously consider themselves as contenders for the playoffs and not just another mediocre team then those type of playoff teams win these big games at home in front of a home crowd.

Only time will tell the destiny of this Pittsburgh Steelers team, but a huge step could be made towards contention with a win over the Lions on Sunday.

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