By Matthew Asher
If there are any players that feel the need to break an NFL record, the smart money seems to be telling them to play against the Atlanta Falcons. Although this may sound very odd, in the past two seasons the Atlanta Falcons have been the opposition during two record-setting performances and also responsible for ending a record.
On Saturday evening the Detroit Lions All-World wide receiver Calvin “Megatron” Johnson set a new NFL record of reception yards in a single season with 1,892. Although it was only the 15th of 16 games for the Lions, Megatron nearly doubled his season average of 119 yards per game. The previous record was set by Jerry Rice. Rice’s 1,848 yards had been the record for 17 seasons.
There was a small amount of talk of it being fitting that Johnson broke the record against the Falcons, as he played college ball at Georgia Tech just a few miles away from the Georgia Dome. Not only that, but former University of Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford was the one who threw the record-breaking pass to him.
That night Megatron broke two other NFL records, tied one and broke a franchise record. In the game, Johnson was able to pull down 11 catches for 225 yards. This was the eighth game in a row where Johnson had at least 100 receiving yards. It was also his fourth game in a row with at least 10 receptions.
Johnson tied Michael Irvin for the most 100-yard receiving games in a season with eleven. With one more game this season, Megatron would be the first receiver to dethrone Irvin since the 1995 season.
The final record Johnson set was the Detroit Lions receiving yardage. Entering the game just 20 yards shy of Herman Moore’s 1,686 yards set in 1995. It took two catches for Johnson to blow past Moore’s record.
The other single-season record broken against the Falcons came last season. Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints came to the Georgia Dome just after Christmas. Just like Johnson, Brees faced the Falcons in Week 17. Drew was hot on the heels of Dan Marino’s record of passing yards in a single season with 4,780 passing yards so far. In 2008, Brees finished the season with 5,069 yards, just shy of Marino’s 5,084 yards mark set in 1984.
Stuck just a handful of yards shy of the record, it wasn’t until the last play of the night that Brees finally did it. With a 9-yard touchdown pass to Darren Sproles, Brees finally broke an NFL record that had stood for 27 years. Brees would end the season throwing for 5,476 yards.
The Falcons would get a small amount of payback on Brees the next time the Saints visited the Georgia Dome. In the Week 13 game, the Falcons spent the entire night harassing Brees, picking off five of his passes while Brees didn’t throw a single touchdown. WIth that performance by the Falcons, they stopped Brees’ NFL record of consecutive games played throwing at least one touchdown at 54.
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Matthew Asher is a freelance writer covering all things Atlanta sports related. His work can be found on Examiner.com.