Diontae Johnson was targeted 15 times by Ben Roethlisberger today. In thee full games played with the quarterback, Johnson has been targeted 38 times in all. He set a new career-high today with nine receptions, taking them in for 80 yards and two touchdowns, also the first game in which he has caught two touchdown passes.
All in all, it was a good day for the second-year wide receiver and for the Pittsburgh Steelers, but in both cases, things could have ended better, even if they all worked out in the end. For the team, it took a last-minute missed field goal to avoid overtime. For the receiver, it took an injury to convert a key third-down play.
Fortunately, it doesn’t appear to be serious, as he told reporters after the game. “Yeah, I’m good”, he said. “It was just a little ankle bruise or whatnot, but nothing going to keep me out of the game. I’m doing fine. I’ll be ready next week”.
He had better be, because the Steelers will need all hands on deck for a pivotal AFC North showdown against the five-win Baltimore Ravens, who are only one game back behind Pittsburgh and would move into first place if they are able to win, at home, next week.
After opening the season with a six-catch, 57-yard game in his first really significant playing time with Roethlisberger, the duo followed that up in week two by connecting on eight receptions for 92 yards and a touchdown.
Unfortunately, injuries would keep Johnson sidelined for all but 25 snaps over the next three games. He suffered a concussion on a rushing play in the second quarter in week three. Though he cleared the protocol for game four, he would go down with a back injury on an early punt return that kept him out of last week’s game as well.
This is now the third time in five games played the season in which Johnson did not finish due to injury, but at least this time he got in nearly a full days’ work, and from the sounds of it, he isn’t likely to miss time as a result.
The 66th-overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, the Toledo product was drafted because of his deft running ability and knack for getting open. Although he certainly does not come without his faults, his high-end traits keep him on the field and keep him producing—and keep him well-targeted.
Each game he has played in full or near-full has set new personal records for targets, first 10 in the opener, then 13 a week later, and now with 15 today. He has now been targeted 41 times on the season despite missing most of three games, with 24 catches for 227 yards and three touchdowns, only one behind Chase Claypool for the team lead—who had just one catch for minus-two yards on the day.