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Calais Campbell Hits Lions Hard

Posted Dec 16, 2012

Notebook: Toler sets record for longest INT return; Wilson joins 25-25 club

 
Defensive end Calais Campbell takes down Lions running back Mikel Leshoure Sunday during the Cardinals' 38-10 win over Detroit.

Calais Campbell popped off the grass late in the fourth quarter as Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford laid 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage and jumped right into a batting stance.

His home run swing was as picture perfect as a 6-foot-8, 300-pound defensive end can get wearing shoulder pads and a helmet. The imaginary home run, however, may not have landed yet.

Now imagine if Campbell was 100 percent healthy.

Campbell played his best all-around game since Week 2 at New England despite still dealing with the lingering effects of a calf injury that sidelined him for a month. He wasn’t in pain while he recorded eight tackles, four for losses, a sack, a quarterback hurry and a pass deflection, but his calf wasn’t completely healed either.

“I think I was able to make all the plays I couldn’t make last week because I had pain in my calf and I had to play little more in control,” said Campbell, who had eight tackles last week at Seattle. “(On Sunday) I was able to dive and get off balls and fly around and make plays. It felt good.

“(But) I didn’t have the explosion I wish I had but I had a lot more than I’ve had since I got hurt.”

Campbell felt like he was going to explode when he was forced to watch from the sidelines against Atlanta, St. Louis and New York. The frustration of not playing pain free for the last month boiled over against Detroit.

“When I got a chance to get back I was giving everything I got,” Campbell said. “When you miss it, you don’t really know what you have until it’s gone really.”

Campbell had to pick up some of the slack left by Dan Williams’ large void. Williams missed the game with a hamstring injury but Campbell made up for the nose tackle’s absence by recording his first full sack since October.

“It’s nice to see Calais back in to play and making those kinds of things happen,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “That’s something that we’ve missed.”

TOLER'S TOUCHDOWN MAKES UP FOR NEAR-TOUCHDOWN

Greg Toler was saved by the clock.

With 6:11 left in the fourth quarter, Lions wide receiver Kris Durham caught a touchdown pass that would’ve cut the Cards’ lead to 24-17. But it was waved off after the officials ruled the play clock expired before the snap. Two plays later, Toler picked off Stafford and returned it 102 yards for a touchdown.

“I kind of was mad at the play before,” Toler said. “I know as a defensive back, you just need to move on to the next play because they could be coming at you at any point, so you have to expect the ball coming your way. We were in Cover 3 and just overthrew to the out route and I just jumped it.”

Stafford and Lions coach Jim Schwartz both said they thought the Lions got their touchdown pass play off in time.

It was the longest interception return in franchise history and the fourth of Toler’s career. The last time Toler ran 102 yards was for his high school track team, he joked. He kept his eyes on the big screen high above the end zone to monitor the blockers behind him even as Kerry Rhodes caught the speedy corner.

Toler’s battled hip and hamstring injuries this season but has started to show his capabilities when healthy during the last few weeks. But Whisenhunt doesn’t want him to get comfortable.

“Let’s let him keep working the way he’s been working up until this point,” Whisenhunt said. “I was glad to see Greg make some plays. The last couple of weeks he has really been more focused on what he needed to do and it was nice to see him play well.”

WILSON MAKES NFL HISTORY

With about four minutes left in the fourth quarter Sunday, Adrian Wilson sacked Stafford to join an elite group in the NFL history books. He’s one of six players to have at least 25 sacks and 25 interceptions in his career. Wilson now has 25½ sacks and 27 interceptions.

The 12th-year safety choked up talking about the milestone after the Cardinals’ win.

“Believe it or not, I’m a very emotional person and I put a lot of stock in what I do to play here and to give everything that I have here,” Wilson said. “History is history. Pretty soon, somebody is going to break that. I’m just going to relish in it tonight with my teammates. It means a lot. I wish I was able to put it into words but I can’t. I’m too emotional right now.”

RESHUFFLED O-LINE KEEPS LIONS AWAY FROM LINDLEY

Adam Snyder made personal history Sunday afternoon when he started at center in place of Lyle Sendlein and Rich Ohrnberger, both out for the season with injuries. He’s now started a game at all five offensive line positions.

“I have a newfound respect for those guys,” Snyder said. “It’s a difficult job. It was less about the mental. I know what to do. It’s just now you have to add in snapping the ball. Coming away with two bad snaps I’m OK with that.”

One resulted in a fumble that quarterback Ryan Lindley recovered. Snyder said it was “hot,” meaning he snapped it back to Lindley too fast. Having Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh lining up across his snapping hand may have had something to do with it.

The Cardinals allowed just one sack, and the Lions managed just five quarterback hurries.

Another new face in the lineup was Pat McQuistan, who saw his first action on the offensive line this season and started the ninth game of his career.

“I felt good,” McQuistan said. “I had to knock a little rust off. It’s been a little bit. It’s fun. It felt good. I’d like to have a couple back.”

JOHNSON PICKS LIONS FOR FIRST TD

Rashad Johnson saw Lions tight end Tony Scheffler turn back toward Stafford, waiting for the pass to arrive, and the safety broke for the ball. The safety stepped in front of Scheffler and returned the interception 53 yards for the first touchdown of his four-year career.

“It was just an easy walk-in touchdown,” Johnson said. “That’s a DB’s dream. That’s what you want to do week in and week out. You want to get an interception and you want to take it to the end zone.

“For that to be my first touchdown in my career, I’m very excited about it and hopefully any more to come.”

Johnson was also part of a unique punt coverage scheme installed just for Sunday’s game. Late in the second quarter, Johnson lined up a few yards ahead of Patrick Peterson for a Lions’ punt. He was in place to pick up a gunner streaking from weak side.

“We knew where they were going to punt the ball and their gunners are really, really good so I was back deep just in case we missed up front where I can pick them up late and they could go back and make another block,” Johnson said.

 

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