Calvin Johnson was in it to win it — and now he's got a chance to compete to for the mirror-ball trophy Tuesday night on ABC's "Dancing With The Stars."
The retired Detroit Lions wide receiver advanced to the final three on Monday night's show, while another contestant with metro Detroit ties, country singer Jana Kramer from Rochester Hills, was eliminated.
Going into the show's two-night finale, only four celebrities remained — and two of them, Olympic gymnast Laurie Hernandez and Indy car driver James Hinchcliffe, were considered the favorites.
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Only three celebrities could move on to Tuesday. That left Johnson and Kramer, the country singer battling it out for the third spot. Adding to the drama? Kramer's partner, Gleb Savchenko, was fighting another foe, a case of the flu.
Things started off a little shaky for Megatron. Johnson and his partner, Lindsay Arnold, scored a troubling 35 out of 40 on the redemption dance, so named because it was chosen by the judges to measure a celebrity's improvement this season.
Performing a Viennese waltz to "I Am Your Man" by Ryan Shaw, the former wide receiver had no visible fumbles. "The most improved dancer in this finale, honestly," raved judge Len Goodman, who praised the NFL star's "lovely fluidity of movement."
But Johnson was marked down by self-appointed chief of the lift police Carrie Ann Inaba, who called an illegal lift for the waltz because Arnold's foot came off the floor at one point.
The season's cutest moment happened when Johnson's 2-year-old son surprised him after the performance and stuck like glue to his dad with a sweet hug. Host Tom Bergeron used the moment to give Inaba a well-deserved dig, saying she took a point off for Johnson lifting his son.
The other redemption dances left Kramer tied with Johnson at 35 and Hernandez and Hinchcliffe in the lead with 38 and 37, respectively.
Then came a freestyle dance to a mashup of Motown with "I Want You Back" by the Jackson 5 and "Please Mr. Postman" by the Marvelettes. It contained a high degree of difficulty with its daring lifts and a cool synchronized sequence done on a treadmill.
During the rehearsal segment, a nervous Johnson joked to Arnold, "Somebody's going to die, probably you." But the number merely killed it with the judges, from Inaba, who said the world needs more Calvin Johnson, to Goodman, who said, "If I was the postman, Calvin, I'd send you a love letter ...That was brilliant."
Johnson and Arnold earned a perfect 40, for a combined evening total of 75. That put them ahead of Kramer, who earned a total of 71, but behind Hinchcliffe's 77 and Hernandez' 78.
There's only one more dance challenge left and Johnson, Hinchcliffe and Hernandez have 24 hours to learn the choreography. You can see the final performances and the announcement of the winner on the season-concluding "Dancing With The Stars" episode at 9 p.m. Tuesday.