NFL notebook: Lions' Johnson earns his money
The Detroit Lions have gotten quite a return on the $132 million, eight-year investment they made in Calvin Johnson nine months ago.
“He's not trying to live up to a contract,” Detroit coach Jim Schwartz said Sunday. “Personal records are great, and we certainly celebrate the season Calvin that has had, but it hasn't translated to enough wins.
“We need more help around him.”
The Lions (4-11) have lost seven straight, the league's longest active skid, after reaching .500 at the midway mark of the season.
Johnson broke Jerry Rice's single-season yards receiving record of 1,848 in Saturday night's 31-18 loss to Atlanta.
Defensive tackle Tommy Kelly said the Raiders were gunning for Cam Newton after the Panthers took out Oakland quarterback Carson Palmer.
Kelly said, “You take our guy out, we're going to go and try to take your guy out. We're not out to hurt someone, but when that happens ...”
The Raiders lost, 17-6, although they did get several shots in on Newton, including one that prompted Carolina's second-year quarterback to bounce up from the ground and chastise and bump an official for not throwing a flag.
Palmer left late in the first quarter when Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy slammed into him as Palmer was setting up to throw. Officials penalized Hardy for leading with his helmet.
Falcons ‘play to win'
With the NFC's top seed secured, Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith has yet to decide how much his starters will play in next week's regular-season finale against Tampa Bay.
Smith's primary concern is for players to relax during a three-day break they earned by winning at Detroit to clinch home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Though Atlanta (13-2) has won two straight and five of six, Smith says the Falcons will “play the game to win” when the Buccaneers (6-9) visit the Georgia Dome next Sunday.
Witten breaks record
Cowboys tight end Jason Witten broke the NFL record for catches in a season by a tight end.
Witten's 103rd catch came in overtime against the Saints. Tony Gonzalez held the mark with 102 catches for Kansas City in 2004.
Browns' Weeden hurt
Cleveland Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden left with a right shoulder injury after being sacked by Broncos linebacker Von Miller in the third quarter. He was replaced by Colt McCoy.
Texans' Foster exits
Texans running back Arian Foster left Sunday's 23-6 loss to the Minnesota Vikings with an irregular heartbeat. Foster, the team's leading rusher, after gaining 15 yards on 10 carries.
Browns cornerback Sheldon Brown left with a head injury after colliding with Broncos receiver Brandon Stokley late in the second quarter. ... Bills tight end Scott Chandler left against Miami with a left knee injury. ... Chargers rookie safety Brandon Taylor was carted off the field in the third quarter of the team's game against the Jets with a knee injury. ... Saints cornerback Jabari Greer left the game at Dallas because of a concussion.
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