Cincinnati's A.J. Green finished with six catches fdor 155 yards, including an 82-yard TD reception in the first quarter. (Elizabeth Conley / Detroit News)
Detroit — Lions receiver Calvin Johnson proved he’s the best wide receiver in the NFL Sunday, but his protégé isn’t far behind.
Bengals receiver A.J. Green torched the Lions with six catches for 155 yards and a touchdown in Cincinnati’s 27-24 victory at Ford Field Sunday.
Green’s big day started on the Bengals’ third offensive play when he used a double move to blow past Lions cornerback Chris Houston for an 82-yard touchdown.
“We didn’t want to give up big plays to No. 18 (Green),” Lions coach Jim Schwartz said after the game. “He goes and makes a huge play early in the game, and it was something that was a big point of emphasis all week. All his double-moves and things like that, stuff we worked on all week, and we didn’t execute well enough in that.”
Houston said Green’s smooth route-running made it difficult to pick up on his double moves, especially with Houston’s aggressive style.
Johnson, from Georgia Tech, and Green, a Georgia product, have worked out together during past offseason, and Johnson has become a mentor to Green. The two also exchanged jerseys after the game.
Green has been difficult to cover in his first three NFL season, and Sunday he eclipsed the 3,000-yard mark, something Johnson didn’t do until the final game of his third year.
Five of Green’s six catches Sunday converted first downs for the Bengals, but he could’ve had an even bigger day. Early in the fourth quarter, Green was running free down the middle and was behind the Lions’ secondary, but quarterback Andy Dalton’s pass was underthrown just enough to let safety Glover Quin break up the play. A good pass likely would’ve resulted in a 72-yard touchdown.
And since Quin broke it up, the Lions will focus more on his other huge play when they review Sunday’s game.
“He’s a good receiver,” Quin said. “He’s a top player. He’s going to make some plays on Sunday. That’s what they pay him to do.”
But as the Lions have struggled to do all season, they couldn’t stop the big plays. Green also had a 27-yard catch in the game, but he had plenty of help from the Bengals’ other weapons. Rookie tight end Tyler Eifert caught a 32-yard touchdown in the third quarter, tight end Jermaine Gresham caught a 30-yarder that set up a third-quarter field goal, and Marvin Jones caught a 12-yard touchdown in the second quarter.
Despite all the big plays, the Lions tied the game at 24-24 on Johnson’s ridiculous 50-yard touchdown catch in between three defenders.
“That was unbelievable,” Green said of Johnson’s catch. “That was some of the best I have ever seen.”
Johnson finished Sunday with nine catches for 155 yards and two scores, but Green said the Bengals’ resiliency helped them pull out the victory.
“Coach (Marvin) Lewis, he always taught us don’t flinch, and we didn’t flinch,” Green said. “We’ve been in games like this for the past couple weeks, so we know what we have to do to come out with that W.”