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Inside the Numbers: What Calvin Johnson Can Learn from 1995′s Race for a Receiving Record

December 13th, 2012 at 9:57 AM
By Max DeMara

With all the recent talk of Calvin Johnson threatening Jerry Rice's single-season receiving yardage record of 1,848, few people might realize Rice faced stiff competition that year from a several players and even a member of the Detroit Lions. Rice was only able to hold all of them off with a great finish.

Indeed, 1995 was a good season to throw the football. Not only did Rice set the top yardage mark, he had to hold off three other great receivers in Isaac Bruce, Michael Irvin and the Lions' own Herman Moore to do so. Four of the top 12 receiving yardage seasons in history came in 1995, and Moore's own stellar season of 1,686 yards still ranks sixth overall in history.

I thought this was the decade of the flashy passing offense. What gives?

From a Detroit perspective, Johnson's 2012 season and Moore's 1995 campaign look strikingly similar. Consider that Moore went on a similar stretch that Johnson's now on. From week seven to week 12 in 1995, Moore hauled in no less than 102 yards receiving in games. Since an ugly 46 yard effort against Seattle in week seven, Johnson hasn't gone below 129 yards in a game. That's the best news as Johnson tries to reel in a tough record to grab.

What earned Rice the record in 1995? His surge to the finish line. In weeks 14 through 16, RIce collected 571 yards, including an eye-popping 289 in one game against the Minnesota Vikings. That easily blew away the competition, as Bruce finished with 414 yards and Moore was further behind at 269.

Though Johnson might not be facing heated competition from three other players, a big finish will also serve him well. Currently, at 1,546 yards, he needs only 303 more to top Rice and has been on his excellent run as of late. By continuing to remain consistent with the 100 yard games, he'll get the job done and accomplish something no receiver has in 17 years.

When looking inside the numbers behind an impressive record, it's obvious that finishing a season strong is as important for receivers as a fast start.

Max DeMara is the managing editor of Lions 101. You can find him on his personal Twitter account @SportsGuyTheMax or on this site's Twitter @detroitlions101

Tags: Calvin Johnson, Detroit, Detroit Lions, Football, Herman Moore, Jerry Rice, NFL

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