Published December 21, 2012
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. – Stevie Johnson's season has gone much like the one-handed catch the Buffalo Bills receiver made last weekend.
It looked marvelous: Johnson leaping over the middle to snag the ball with one hand, bring it in and control it before he landed on the turf for a 25-yard gain. Trouble is, the drive stalled and Buffalo lost the game.
"It's a pretty cool catch," Johnson said Wednesday. "I mean, it's just a guy trying to make a big play. But it didn't really lead to too much. So, it's just a play. That's it."
The best receiver on a perennial loser is sick of the losing but hasn't been pouting or pointing fingers. On the verge of becoming the first Bills receiver to produce three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, the fifth-year pro is instead thinking about the best way to produce a winning culture in Buffalo.
"I don't think it's from maturity," Johnson said. "I think it's just from me wanting to change things, me wanting to bring this team back."
It wasn't that long ago that Johnson had to balance entertaining plays with embarrassing mistakes, exploding in social media after dropping a game-winning touchdown versus Pittsburgh in 2010 and being benched after a touchdown celebration penalty against the Jets in 2011.
He's learned from those errors and is already the first Bills player to get back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. Andre Reed didn't do it. Elbert Dubenion didn't do it. Nor did Eric Moulds. Johnson is 109 yards away from doing it for the third time.
But it means very little to him without respect for the organization.
"I'm a crucial part of the team and there are other guys who are crucial parts of the team and we feel the same: We want to keep Buffalo relevant," Johnson said. "And it's been 13 years since we've been relevant. We made some noise, but it led to nothing this year, pretty much."
Johnson, a former seventh-round draft pick, isn't a stereotypical diva receiver. He's grateful to be producing anywhere.
"You never know what's going to happen from this year to the next," Johnson said. "You've got to get the picture fast and I definitely did. I can't say I (immediately) did with the shenanigans that I had going on early in my career. I'm here now and I have to be able to hold it for as long as I can."