Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said last week that his defense practices every day against two receivers who are better than Detroit’s Calvin Johnson. After Johnson scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns against Ryan’s defense today, Lions coach Jim Schwartz got the last laugh.
“I’m just glad that the third-best receiver on their team is on our team,” Schwartz said.
In fairness to Ryan, for much of the game it did look like the Cowboys’ Dez Bryant was going to have a bigger impact than Johnson: Bryant caught two early touchdown passes, Ryan’s defense kept Johnson in check for much of the first three quarters, and the Cowboys jumped out to a 27-3 lead.
But it should also be noted that on the critical play when the Lions scored their game-winning touchdown, Ryan made a bad call to leave Terence Newman one-on-one with Johnson in the end zone. Everyone who has watched the Lions knows that their favorite play near the goal line is for Matthew Stafford to throw it high into the end zone and Johnson to go up and get it. Leaving Newman alone with Johnson in the end zone with the game on the line was, frankly, dumb.
And so Schwartz had reason to gloat after the game, and Ryan will have to eat a little crow. It’s not a good sign for Ryan’s defense that with the game on the line, they couldn’t stop a receiver who’s not even as good as the guys they practice against every day.