Falcons Clinch Top NFC Seed, Johnson Breaks Rice’s Record

Matt Ryan threw four touchdown passes as the Atlanta Falcons defeated the Detroit Lions 31-18 to clinch the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage through the National Football Conference playoffs.

Lions receiver Calvin Johnson, who caught 11 passes from quarterback Matt Stafford for 225 yards last night, surpassed Jerry Rice’s National Football League single-season record for yards receiving of 1,848. His three receptions for 70 yards in the first quarter broke Herman Moore’s single-season franchise record for yards receiving.

“When Matt and I are on the field together, some special things can happen,” Johnson told reporters after the game. “We said before the game that we wanted to try to get it tonight.”

Johnson broke Hall of Fame wide receiver Rice’s 17-year mark set in 1995 and ended the game with 1,892 yards. The new record was set on his 10th reception of the game that went for 26 yards with three minutes, five seconds left in the fourth quarter. He is now 108 yards shy of becoming the first player in NFL history to register 2,000 receiving yards in a season, the Lions said.

Johnson also became the first player with 100 yards receiving in eight straight games and the first with 10 receptions in four games in a row.

Ryan completed 25 of 32 passing attempts for 279 yards for the Falcons, who improved to 13-2 last night at Ford Field in Detroit.

Ryan connected with Roddy White twice on 44 and 39-yard scoring passes and Julio Jones had a 16-yard reception to give the Falcons a 21-6 halftime advantage. Jason Hanson kicked field goals of 34 and 38 yards for the Lions, who lost their seventh straight game to fall to 4-11.

The Lions came within five points after Mikel Leshoure’s one-yard scoring run in the third quarter and Hanson’s 20-yard field goal at 1:32 of the fourth quarter.

Ryan connected with Michael Palmer and Matt Bryant kicked a 20-yard field goal to secure the victory for the Falcons.

The Lions earned a safety with just over a minute to play when Kyle Vanden Bosch tackled Michael Turner in the end zone.

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