Lions nullify Cardinals' Johnson, knock him out of game

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

Detroit — The Lions weren’t supposed to have an answer for Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson. Then again, few teams do.

The NFL’s premier dual-threat running back, Johnson was a nightmare for opposing defenses last season, racking up 1,239 yards on the ground and another 879 on 80 receptions. He found the end zone 20 times.

Johnson got his through the air against the Lions on Sunday, matching a team-high with six receptions, but he wasn’t able to do anything on the ground. He finished with 23 yards on 11 carries. He also didn’t score and fumbled twice, losing one deep in his own territory that the Lions turned into a touchdown two plays later.

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Johnson was knocked from the game with a wrist injury on that fumble late in the third quarter. He had to be helped off the field the series before after taking a punishing blow from safety Glover Quin.

According to Quin, the Lions’ plan was to make Johnson feel the defense every time he touched the ball.

“We knew he was huge target for them, big part of the offense, so we just wanted to make sure we knew where he was at all times and make sure we put bodies on him,” Quinn said. “Hit him, hit him, hit him, continue to hit him and see if he can take it for four quarters and we were able to get him out of the game and that’s a big part of the offense.”

With Johnson out of the game, the Cardinals punted the next two possessions, followed by quarterback Carson Palmer throwing an interception on a pass intended for Johnson’s backup, Andre Ellington.

When Johnson exited, the Lions were down 17-9. Over the final 19 minutes, the Lions went on a 26-0 run, coming away with the 35-23 victory.

Twitter: @justin_rogers