Calvin Johnson‘s chase of Jerry Rice‘s single-season receiving yards record has been widely covered, both on this site and others. Calvin Johnson’s season has been put side-by-side with Jerry Rice’s record-setting 1995 season and the pace statistics have been calculated and recalculated with each passing week.
The chase watch has largely focused on Johnson’s pursuit of the record and used his statistics to date to predict the end point. Don’t get me wrong, there isn’t anything wrong with that – it just puts a restraint on the situation that limits the way we look at things. At this point it almost looks like a foregone conclusion that Calvin Johnson will break the record but when exactly that will happen has been overlooked.
Megatron heads into week 16 with 1,667 receiving yards this season needing to get that number up to 1,849 to break Rice‘s record. That leaves 182 yard to go with two games to go, requiring a minimum average of 91 yards per game to get there. It’s been at this point we mostly say “yay, he’s going to do it” and leave it at that. But we shouldn’t. Doing so runs the risk of the record sneaking up on us.
A 182 yard day against the Falcons is going to take a big effort but not anything we haven’t seen from Calvin Johnson before. In fact, he has gone over that mark three times in his career. He has done it once this season, twice this calendar year and three times over the last two seasons.
Take those three performances over his 90-game career and you could say there is a 3.33% chance that the record goes down on Saturday night. If you want to say these last two season represent a “new Megatron” then perhaps there is as much as a 10% (3/30) chance Rice is toppled this week.
Whether you’re sitting inside Ford Field or watching from home on Saturday night, don’t think of each catch as another step towards a record that won’t be set until next week. Think of it as a step towards a record that could be set that night.