St. Louis — Calvin Johnson was about 2 minutes and 30 seconds from finishing an NFL game without a reception for the first time in his career.
In the Lions' 21-14 loss to the Rams Sunday, Johnson was hardly a part of the offense, drawing just five targets and finishing with one 16-yard catch.
"We just didn't have that rhythm today," said Johnson, who dropped one of those targets.
With the catch late in the fourth quarter, Johnson extended his streak to 132 straight games with a reception, but it was just the seventh time he finished a game with only one catch.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford explained that the Rams regularly had a safety focusing on Johnson in addition to a cornerback. But coach Jim Caldwell had no interest in explaining why Johnson wasn't a bigger part of the game plan.
"Every game's different," Caldwell said.
The coach went on to explain that wide receiver Golden Tate caught nine passes and running back Theo Riddick caught seven. Effectively, in a game where Stafford threw 46 passes, there weren't enough opportunities for Johnson, the team's best offensive player since Barry Sanders.
"In our game, the way we play and how we work, that ball gets spread around, and it's not going to happen every game," Caldwell said of Johnson's involvement. "It's not realistic. He's not going to catch nine balls every single time we're out. That's the way it happens sometimes."
Entering Sunday's game, Johnson averaged 5.4 receptions per game in his career. Meanwhile, TJ Jones, who was filling in for Lance Moore (ankle), had eight targets in the game compared to Johnson's five.
"I've got to find a way to get him the ball, be more aggressive to him, give him some shots," Stafford said of Johnson.
As much as Tate likes having chances to make plays, he's often been vocal about the need to get Johnson involved, and that stance didn't change after Sunday's loss.
"It's frustrating, man, because he's such a huge part of this offense, this team, even this organization," Tate said. "And I know what he's capable of. We all know what he's capable of. It's unfortunate."