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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Calvin Johnson ran around a little, made a couple of plays and watched from the sideline a lot more than he's used to.
Two catches, 12 yards. And that was more than the Detroit Lions needed against the New York Jets.
Matthew Stafford threw two touchdown passes and ran for another score and the Lions overcame Johnson being limited by an ankle injury to beat the Jets 24-17 on Sunday.
"He had a couple of catches, but he obviously wasn't himself out there," Stafford said of his No. 1 receiver. "That's the kind of guy he is, to come out here and play for us and helping us out with depth. The other guys stepped up big."
Jeremy Ross and Eric Ebron caught scoring passes for the Lions, off to a 3-1 start for the second straight season. Johnson's ankle had him questionable entering the game, but Golden Tate did his best Megatron impersonation, catching eight passes for 116 yards.
"We knew Calvin was going to be limited today and we were hoping to not have to use him unless it was an emergency," Tate said. "I think we responded well."
Stafford finished 24 of 34 for 293 yards, and appeared unfazed by his top receiver shuttling in and out of the game.
The game was a matchup of Detroit's top-ranked defense and New York's No. 2. The Lions had the first big play of the game as Stafford found Ross for a 59-yard touchdown and a 10-3 lead over the Jets (1-3). Ross blew by converted safety Antonio Allen, and then Allen missed a late tackle attempt as Ross got into the end zone.
"This team is not the only team that's going to get lit up by a team throwing the football," Jets coach Rex Ryan said. "They do a pretty good job. They have a lot of weapons over there."
Here are a few other things to know about the Lions' victory over the Jets:
FRUSTRATED GENO: Jets quarterback Geno Smith lost his cool after the game, and was caught by a TV camera yelling an expletive at a heckler in the stands as he walked off the MetLife Stadium field.
"First of all, I want to apologize if any kids saw me saying any negative remarks walking off the field," Smith said to open his postgame news conference. "I kind of let my temper get the best of me in that situation, and it's a part of my learning process."
Smith was 17 of 33 for 209 yards, but had two more turnovers — an interception and a fumble — as chants of "We Want Vick!" echoed throughout the stadium at times, perhaps none louder than after he was intercepted by Darius Slay in the fourth quarter. Ryan, however, insisted that Smith will start next Sunday at San Diego.
"I believe in him," Ryan said.
THEY LIKE MIKE: Vick didn't get into the game, but he heard the calls for him to take over for Smith.
"I have mixed emotions about it," the backup quarterback said, "because I've been through that, too"
If Smith struggles again against the Chargers, the Jets could have a full-blown quarterback controversy. Asked what he thought when he the fans chanting for Vick, defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson was blunt.
"Shut up," Richardson said. "If that's the case, produce a child who can come and make it to the NFL and let's see what he's got. Other than that, just shut up. We've got coaches to do that."
MOMENTUM CHANGER: New York stayed in it — and fired up the fans — by scoring on its first possession of the second half, an 11-yard touchdown from Smith to Eric Decker midway through the third quarter that made it 17-10.
But the Lions reclaimed control on Stafford's 1-yard run for a touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter to give Detroit a 24-10 lead. Stafford's run — upheld by video review — capped a 14-play, 90-yard scoring drive.
"We were just clicking," Tate said.
EBRON EMERGES: With Joseph Fauria out with an ankle injury, Ebron had a breakout game as the Lions' No. 2 tight end.
The No. 10 overall pick in May didn't light up the stats sheet with three catches for 34 yards and a touchdown — his first in the NFL — but he helped pick up the slack left by Johnson being in and out of the lineup.
"I couldn't ask for anything more," Ebron said of his 16-yard TD. "I couldn't ask for a better throw or a better play call."
INJURIES: The Jets lost wide receiver David Nelson (left ankle) and rookie safety Calvin Pryor (thigh) to injuries, and they didn't return. Cornerback Antonio Allen also had a significant limp after the game.
Lions running back Joique Bell left with a head injury, while running back Theo Riddick and fullback Montell Owens had hamstring injuries. Neither coach had any updates.
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