For the most part Steve Johnson's play spoke for itself against the Jets. But a selfish celebration and key drop spoke volumes.
Johnson's stat line reads eight catches for 75 yards and a touchdown. He had what would be considered by any follower of football, a banner day against Darrelle Revis, one of the toughest defenders in the league. During the Bills losing streak, I admit to having my questions about Johnson as an elite receiver in the NFL.
His performance against Revis suggests otherwise.
The turning point for Johnson's day, and for the Bills as it would turn out, came in the second quarter after Ryan Fitzpatrick hit Johnson for a five yard touchdown. Johnson immediately went into celebration mode pretending to shoot himself in the thigh. It was an obvious mocking of former Giant now Jet receiver Plaxico Burress who spent 20 months in prison after shooting himself in the leg in a New York nightclub in 2008.
But of course Johnson wasn't done.
He then spread his wings like a bird, like a plane, and crashed to the MetLife stadium turf drawing a 15-yard penalty for excessive celebration. That was enforced on the ensuing kickoff, a botched squib attempt, that gave the Jets key field position and allowed them to tie the game at 14-14 before the half on a pass to who else? Burress.
It was further accentuated in the fourth quarter when Burress made a terrific one handed grab on a 3rd and 11 play to give the Jets a first down on the game winning drive. The Bills had the chance to answer, but a dropped pass by Johnson near the Jet 20 on a route that looked like it could go for the winning touchdown wound up being the period that essentially ended the sentence.
After the game Johnson was all apologies, admitting he needs to be more mature. Gailey said it is his responsibility to help him get beyond that.
Gailey correctly said the Bills can't "dumb away" games.
That would be especially true where the Bills are trying to fight through a myriad of injuries, and fighting for their playoff lives. In many ways, Johnson did his part to spark the offense with a stellar performance against Revis. But his selfish and classless celebration went a long way toward costing the Bills seven points in a game that was decided by four. And his drop, a year after his dropped pass in overtime cost the Bills a win over the Pittsburgh Steelers suggests he lacks a degree of finish in clutch situations.
Johnson is in the final year of his contract and headed for unrestricted free agency. If his performance Sunday suggests anything, it's that the Bills should think about the kind of money they invest in him.