December 3, 2012 at 3:05 pm

Josh Katzenstein: NFL Monday Countdown

Lions' devastating defeat overshadows impressive individual feats

Calvin Johnson added to his impressive 2012 totals with 13 catches and 171 yards Sunday. (Daniel Mears / Detroit News)

All of the Lions' losses keep overshadowing some outstanding performances.

After they lost to the Vikings in Week 10, the first setback of this four-game losing streak, coach Jim Schwartz said defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley may have had their best performances in their NFL careers.

The stats didn't back up Schwartz's argument, but the bigger surprise was the coach going out of his way to heap praise on players the day after a 34-24 loss, their biggest margin of defeat this season.

There are certainly plenty of players who deserve blame for the Lions' last-second, 35-33, loss to the Colts Sunday, but some players didn't receive their due because of the final tally. Obviously, if any of them had made just one more play, the result would've been different.

Safety Don Carey led the Lions with seven tackles Sunday, his most since he played for the Jaguars in 2010. He also had two interceptions, tripling his career total, and seemingly iced the game with his second pick of Andrew Luck with the Lions up 12 with 6:40 to play.

Carey, making just his second start this season, also had a career-high with three passes defended, but if he had been in position to knock down one of the completions on the Colts' final drive or any of their four 40-plus gains, the Lions likely win the game.

Suh is making headlines again because a Colts player accused him of delivering a concussion-inducing block on Indianapolis right tackle Winston Justice after Carey's second interception. Then, Suh and other Lions danced and laughed at Justice, Colts right guard Mike McGlynn told the Indianapolis Star.

Without this incident and with a Lions win, we could be talking about another career game from Suh. He had six tackles, including a career-high four for loss. Suh also had a sack on the Colts' first offensive play and his second pass defended of the season.

However, Luck evaded a few would-be tackles by Suh, including one on the game's final drive when he scrambled for nine yards. One more tackle or sack by Suh and the Lions probably win.

Then, of course, there was Calvin Johnson, whose fifth-straight game with 125-plus receiving yards (tying an NFL record) was enough to receive some credit. But however much was given probably wasn't enough.

Did you see his one-handed diving catch along the sideline at the 6-yard line? It set up a Mikel Leshoure rushing touchdown early in the second quarter that gave the Lions a bit more comfortable 17-7 lead.

How about that other catch where Johnson dove along the goal line to make a 46-yard touchdown pass that gave the Lions a 30-21 lead with 15:02 left in the game? It was a broken play and about five seconds elapsed after the snap when Johnson decided to start running along the goal line.

Megatron finished with a career-high 13 catches for 171 yards, and with Titus Young inactive and rookie Ryan Broyles leaving in the first quarter (right knee), the Lions needed Johnson more than ever.

His 1,428 yards this season are nearly 250 more than any other receiver in the NFL. He's just 420 yards shy of Jerry Rice's single-season record, and at this rate, few would be surprised if Johnson broke one of the league's most-heralded records.

However, Johnson caught just one of his final four targets, and although they weren't all perfect throws by Matthew Stafford, one more catch probably gives the Lions a victory.

As with all the Lions' eight losses this season, they needed just one more play Sunday. But since they couldn't muster that extra play, all the outstanding ones by Johnson, Suh and Carey will likely be forgotten.

Around the NFC North

There is once again a tie atop the Lions' division.

The Packers (8-4) beat the Vikings, 23-14, in Green Bay to move into a first-place tie with the Bears (8-4), who lost to the Seahawks, 23-17, in overtime.

If the Vikings (6-6) had found a way to win, three of the four teams in the NFC North would've been within one game of the division lead. Adrian Peterson ran 21 times for 210 yards and a touchdown, but quarterback Christian Ponder couldn't deliver a victory, throwing two red-zone interceptions and failing to complete a pass to a wide receiver until the final three minutes.

The Bears, meanwhile, allowed a 14-yard touchdown pass from Russell Wilson to Golden Tate with 24 seconds left that gave the Seahawks a 17-14 lead. Chicago managed to score a field goal as regulation expired, but Wilson hit Sidney Rice with a 13-yard touchdown pass mid-way through the extra period.

Next week is an all-NFC North Sunday with the Vikings hosting the Bears and the Lions traveling to Green Bay for the night game.

Chiefs win following tragedy

Many wanted the Chiefs to delay their game with the Panthers in the wake of linebacker Jovan Belcher killing his girlfriend then driving to the team facility to kill himself in front of Kansas City coaches.

Despite the pain of the Saturday tragedy, the Chiefs found the inspiration to win Sunday, beating Carolina 27-21.

"It's been an incredibly difficult 24 hours for our family and our entire organization," owner Clark Hunt said, according to the Associated Press. "We have so many guys on our team and our coaching staff who are really, really hurting."

jkatzenstein@detnews.com

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