GLENDALE, Ariz. — Calvin Johnson is appropriately nicknamed “Megatron” due to his ridiculous combination of size, speed and hands.
Given that, however, it might be right to nickname Patrick Peterson “Michael Bay,” because he found a way to make Johnson look pretty bad.
The Cardinals’ cornerback helped force the receiver into a very uninspiring performance Sunday in Arizona’s 14-6 win over the Detroit Lions, as Johnson caught just five passes on 12 targets for 59 yards, with a long of 15.
“Just wanted to be physical like I told you guys earlier throughout the week,” Peterson said of the key to slowing Johnson. “I wanted to make sure I got my hands on him as much as possible, but I wanted to play within the rules as well. Fortunately I didn’t get called today.
“I thought there were a couple of offensive calls that should’ve got called, but at the end of the day I’m OK with it. Just want to be physical, just want to make sure I disrupt that time between him and the quarterback, and I feel like I did a pretty good job for that for the majority of the game.”
Peterson’s coach, Bruce Arians, was impressed.
“Yeah, Patrick played an outstanding ball game,” he said. “He’s been on fire for three weeks. But when we mixed it up, the other guys jumped in and Todd (Bowles) did a nice job of having people over the top and in between trying to confuse Matthew (Stafford) a few times, but holding him down is a huge, huge accomplishment.”
Johnson was not the only Lions wideout to struggle Sunday, as his teammate Golden Tate was held to just 41 yards on two receptions. Tate entered the game leading the NFC in receptions and yards, but was targeted just twice — and zero times after the second quarter.
“They played their butts off,” Johnson said of the Cardinals’ secondary. “It was a physical game. They just played a good game. We just have to come better.”
Doing better against Arizona’s secondary, which was built to be one of the best in the league, is becoming quite a chore. And if the Cardinals get a pass rush, which they have the last two weeks, then it will become damn near impossible.
Peterson was asked what Sunday’s performance proved.
“That we are definitely one of the best in the game,” he said. “Our numbers don’t speak for that, but I believe we have caught our stride.”
The Cardinals’ defense is still ranked 28th in the league against the pass, though their 15 interceptions are tied for the second-most. They are also holding opposing quarterbacks to a 79.9 passer rating, which is the NFL’s fifth-best mark.
And the group only seems to be getting better.
Cardinals linebacker Larry Foote said the secondary is “special,” noting how everyone pays attention to Peterson and Antonio Cromartie, but that Justin Bethel and Jerraud Powers also do a great job. He added that everyone — including the safeties — can cover man-to-man.
“We’re blessed and we’re fortunate to have those guys,” he added.