Drops defined the last few games for Diontae Johnson. Now, he is back to making the explosive plays fans are so used to seeing from him.
Johnson’s Key Ball Drops
Johnson has missed a few key opportunities in the last few games to make the explosive plays he is usually responsible for.
In the Steelers’ game against the Washington Football Team, Johnson had three drops. That game ended up being Pittsburgh’s first loss of the season, ending their 11-0 win streak.
Diontae Johnson says he was dropping the ball because he was overthinking about catching it after his drops. #Steelers
— Blitzburgh 🎄 (@RenegadeBlitz) December 19, 2020
“Once you get those drops, you kind of get it in the back of your head like, ‘catch it, catch it, catch it,'” Johnson said in a press conference. “It’s all you really think about. When you see the ball coming your way and you are thinking about it in the back of your mind, you are just like, ‘ugh.’ You don’t want to try and shy away from it. I have been dropping the ball, but I don’t let that define me as a person and as a player.”
Johnson had two more drops in the first half of an away game at Buffalo. After being benched, the wide receiver got a much needed pep talk from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
When Johnson came back in the second half, he caught a few crucial passes.
While Johnson has 11 total drops on the season, he is not the only member of the receiving core responsible. The Steelers lead the NFL in total ball drops with 33.
A Step in the Right Direction
Monday night’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals proved horrific for the Pittsburgh Steelers, especially offensively.
However, Johnson knew what he needed to do in order to redeem himself and prove that he is still the playmaker everyone knows him to be.
The receiver caught eight passes for 59 yards and one touchdown. Although these are not what would normally be considered strong game statistics, Johnson’s performance carried the offense.
Despite the Steelers’ shocking loss, Johnson’s 23-yard touchdown in the second half put Pittsburgh back in the game.
“I felt like I got back to myself as the ball was coming my way more,” Johnson said.
Johnson did not have any official ball drops in Monday’s matchup.
Plans for the Future
Roethlisberger’s performance on Monday night was arguably one of the worst he has had in a long time.
However, the veteran quarterback knows what he needs to do in the future to set his receivers up for success.
“I just need to give them more catchable balls, put them in position to catch balls where they’re not gonna get hit,” Roethlisberger said. “I need to be my best so they can be at their best. When they’re at their best, we’re pretty good.”
Johnson’s playmaking skills will be crucial in Pittsburgh’s next two games. The Steelers just need to win one of their last two games in order to win the AFC North division title. The team is already guaranteed a spot in the playoffs.
Pittsburgh is set to take on the Indianapolis Colts on Dec. 27 at 1 p.m.
Featured Image Courtesy of Pro Football Network.
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