Lions take issue with Vikes' hits on Johnson

The Detroit Lions weren't happy with at least three plays that targeted Calvin Johnson and another in which CB Chris Houston was hurt. Johnson also had some controversy surrounding his first game with the Vikings, but Mistral Raymond said Johnson's size might contribute to hits around the head.

The Detroit Lions took issue with a few hits from the Minnesota Vikings.

The most direct accusation came from Lions cornerback Chris Houston, who said offensive lineman Brandon Fusco intentional targeted his ankle.

"A lineman just fell on my ankle on purpose," Houston said, according to the Detroit Free Press. "I went to cut him and he was flying open and as he went down he put both his knees on my ankle on purpose. But it's part of the game. I'll be OK."

The play came on Adrian Peterson's 61-yard touchdown run. Fusco pulled from his right guard spot to kick Houston further outside. When Houston went low on Fusco, the guard ended up doing a somersault over Houston and landed on his ankle.

Houston said he "definitely" felt the play was dirty.

"I was on the ground so I didn't get to see who it was, but as he pulled I cut him and he was flying over top of me, you could feel him land on my ankle on purpose," Houston said. "But I'll be OK."

Earlier in the fourth quarter, safety Mistral Raymond was flagged for a late hit to Joique Bell after he was already on the ground. In that case, it was Raymond putting a shoulder pad into Bell's shoulder pad with no helmet-to-helmet contact.

"It's tough because there was a time that you wouldn't even think about it. Guys would just go in and try to get that contact," Raymond said. "Now they're forcing you to slow down and make conscious decisions about where you're placing your head and where you're hitting guys and how late. It's just something that is part of the game right now. You just have to be aware of and make good decisions."

Only three plays after Raymond's hit, linebacker Jasper Brinkley was flagged for unnecessary roughness when his helmet made contact with Calvin Johnson's helmet after a 25-yard catch.

"You never like to see anybody get hit in the head. It's part of the game that they're trying to get rid of, which I think is a good thing," quarterback Matthew Stafford said. "Calvin is a tough guy. He stayed in there and made some great plays for us and had a great game. There's not a whole lot of place for that in this league."

Raymond indicated that Johnson being such a big, athletic receiver might have something to do with the number of hits he takes near the head.

"The guy is 6-5 and jumps 40 inches off the ground. Even if you want to hit him in his chest, you've got to kind of rise up to do that," Raymond said. "I've seen a number of times on film where guys are getting up around his face. He's a tough guy. He'll be alright."

The Vikings may have gotten away with another hit on Johnson that wasn't flagged. In the third quarter, safety Harrison Smith made helmet-to-helmet contact on Johnson's 50-yard catch down the middle of the field.

"They hit him in the head twice; only one of them was flagged," Lions coach Jim Schwartz said. "But he was cleared to go back in the game, and he was fine."

Johnson was shown grasping his helmet or shaking his head several times, something Raymond noticed.

The hits and comments – as well as the Lions leaving Johnson in the game – are even more attention-grabbing because the Lions had to retract remarks he made last week when he said he played with a concussion and nerve damage in the first game against the Vikings after taking hits from Chad Greenway and Smith.

On Friday afternoon, Johnson and the Lions both issued statements on his comments from Thursday.

"I would like to clarify some of my comments from yesterday," Johnson said. "I am aware that I did not suffer a concussion in our game against the Vikings earlier this year. I misused the terms ‘nerve damage' and ‘concussion.'

"I have not suffered any nerve damage nor have I received any treatment for nerve damage. I did suffer a stinger and have also experienced the kind of wear and tear that most NFL players are dealing with at this point in the season," Johnson said in his statement.

The Lions' statement read: "With respect to the Minnesota game on Sept. 30, Calvin sustained a hit that resulted in him being removed from the game and evaluated pursuant to the appropriate concussion protocol by our team doctors. He was also subsequently examined the following day and was found to have no concussion.

"Additionally, Calvin did not suffer any nerve damage. He sustained what is referred to as a ‘stinger' and was able to finish the game."

Despite the hits that Johnson was taking in Sunday's game, the Lions continued to send him across the middle. He was targeted 13 times and caught a career-high 12 passes for 207 yards and a touchdown.

"He has a tough role, he has got guys all around him, they are going to key in on him and when they get the chance they are definitely going to try and take shots on him," Lions tight end Brandon Pettigrew said. "He is aware of that. He is a big-time playmaker – that is just the role that he has."


Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.



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\r\n\r\n\r\n","mobileBody":"The Detroit Lions took issue with a few hits from the Minnesota Vikings. The most direct accusation came from Lions cornerback Chris Houston, who said offensive lineman Brandon Fusco intentional targeted his ankle. \"A lineman just fell on my ankle on purpose,\" Houston said, according to the Detroit Free Press. \"I went to cut him and he was flying open and as he went down he put both his knees on my ankle on purpose. But it's part of the game. I'll be OK.\" The play came on Adrian Peterson's 61-yard touchdown run. Fusco pulled from his right guard spot to kick Houston further outside. When Houston went low on Fusco, the guard ended up doing a somersault over Houston and landed on his ankle. Houston said he \"definitely\" felt the play was dirty. \"I was on the ground so I didn't get to see who it was, but as he pulled I cut him and he was flying over top of me, you could feel him land on my ankle on purpose,\" Houston said. \"But I'll be OK.\" Earlier in the fourth quarter, safety Mistral Raymond was flagged for a late hit to Joique Bell after he was already on the ground. In that case, it was Raymond putting a shoulder pad into Bell's shoulder pad with no helmet-to-helmet contact. \"It's tough because there was a time that you wouldn't even think about it. Guys would just go in and try to get that contact,\" Raymond said. \"Now they're forcing you to slow down and make conscious decisions about where you're placing your head and where you're hitting guys and how late. It's just something that is part of the game right now. You just have to be aware of and make good decisions.\" Only three plays after Raymond's hit, linebacker Jasper Brinkley was flagged for unnecessary roughness when his helmet made contact with Calvin Johnson's helmet after a 25-yard catch. \"You never like to see anybody get hit in the head. It's part of the game that they're trying to get rid of, which I think is a good thing,\" quarterback Matthew Stafford said. \"Calvin is a tough guy. He stayed in there and made some great plays for us and had a great game. There's not a whole lot of place for that in this league.\" Raymond indicated that Johnson being such a big, athletic receiver might have something to do with the number of hits he takes near the head. \"The guy is 6-5 and jumps 40 inches off the ground. Even if you want to hit him in his chest, you've got to kind of rise up to do that,\" Raymond said. \"I've seen a number of times on film where guys are getting up around his face. He's a tough guy. He'll be alright.\" The Vikings may have gotten away with another hit on Johnson that wasn't flagged. In the third quarter, safety Harrison Smith made helmet-to-helmet contact on Johnson's 50-yard catch down the middle of the field. \"They hit him in the head twice; only one of them was flagged,\" Lions coach Jim Schwartz said. \"But he was cleared to go back in the game, and he was fine.\" Johnson was shown grasping his helmet or shaking his head several times, something Raymond noticed. The hits and comments – as well as the Lions leaving Johnson in the game – are even more attention-grabbing because the Lions had to retract remarks he made last week when he said he played with a concussion and nerve damage in the first game against the Vikings after taking hits from Chad Greenway and Smith. 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