After smashing the Rams 44-6 to earn their first victory of the season Sunday, the Lions now brace for the prospect of playing the Giants in the New Meadowlands this week without Calvin Johnson. The receiver fell awkwardly on his right shoulder early in the fourth quarter.
"It's sore," is all Johnson would say afterward.
Television cameras showed him comparing shoulder pain with quarterback Matthew Stafford on the sideline. Stafford is not expected back until Oct. 31 at the earliest.
"He landed funny," coach Jim Schwartz said of Johnson. "We'll see where it is (Monday). It's in the shoulder area, but I haven't heard anything back yet."
The Lions demonstrated, even with backup Shaun Hill at quarterback, how difficult the combination of Johnson and Nate Burleson are to deal with. Burleson had missed the previous three games with an ankle injury, and teams were able to load up their coverage on Johnson.
The Rams also went into the game playing two-deep on Johnson, and Burleson made them pay. He caught four passes for 54 yards. Three of them were third-down conversions, and the other was a 26-yard touchdown.
"It was huge having Nate back, especially with what they wanted to do, coverage-wise," Schwartz said. "They wanted to take Calvin (Johnson) out, and you saw how Nate really made the pay on third downs to move the chains. You saw how wide open the middle was (on his touchdown), and the reason it was so open was because they were over the top of Calvin."
If the Lions haven't fully gotten over the hump, they have at least broken the seal. The win snapped a 10-game losing streak.
"Man, it was huge," Burleson said. "We've been playing confidently. We've been in games, but the final results haven't been what we wanted. To start like we did and then finish, it's not only validation for us but for those who were on the fence about us. Hopefully this gives them something to hold onto."
- Give veteran center Dominic Raiola a game ball for his play Sunday. The Rams came in allowing just 13 points a game, thanks in part to their complex blitz packages. Raiola, though, working in tandem with offensive coordinator Scott Linehan all week, effectively sniffed out the blitzes and called all the right protection packages.
The Lions were able to neutralize the blitz. Hill was sacked just once.
- KR Stefan Logan, with his father in the stands for the first time, tied the Lions record with a 105-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
- DT Ndamukong Suh doubles as the Lions' emergency placekicker and at times as a blocking back on offense, but Sunday he looked as if he were auditioning to play linebacker. In the fourth quarter, he first batted the ball into the air and then picked off a pass from Sam Bradford. More impressively, he spun, turned upfield and rumbled for 20 yards after the catch. "I should have followed my blockers," he joked.
- MLB DeAndre Levy (ankle) remains out, and the Lions also lost the services of backup Spencer Havner on Sunday. He had replaced Levy's replacement (Landon Johnson, who was ill) and injured his leg. Johnson returned to finish the game.
- OLB Julian Peterson had a big game, making 12 tackles, including a sack. He also broke up a pass.
- DE Cliff Avril was carted off the field in the fourth quarter with what coach Jim Schwartz called full body cramps.