Don’t say Diontae Johnson can’t catch. Today most certainly proved he could. That doesn’t mean he won’t have drops – he will – but Johnson can make the tough ones look easy. And none were tougher than his tip-drill touchdown to put the Pittsburgh Steelers’ on top. After the game, QB Ben Roethlisberger made sure to give Johnson the credit he deserves.
“He’s a phenomenal football player,” Roethlisberger told reporters during his press conference. “He’s a guy that is an incredible talent. Very scared when he went down early on. Luckily, I think he’ll be okay. He’s one of those guys you get the ball in his hand and just sit back and watch it.”
Johnson had the offensive play of the day, tracking Roethlisberger’s throw that was initially tipped to find it, catch it, and drag both feet in the corner of the end zone for the score. A hard play to forget but here’s another look.
— Steelers Depot (@Steelersdepot) September 12, 2021
Roethlisberger discussed the playcall.
“We knew what the call was, I told him to be patient because sometimes he can get impatient with the double move route. His ball skills are through the roof. The ball kinda got tipped up and he was still able to catch and get two feet in. Just awesome.”
Johnson led the team with five receptions and scored the offense’s only touchdown of the day. Far from a gaudy stat line, five grabs for 36 yards and that score, Johnson made plays downfield – like his TD – and short, taking screens and running for YAC.
Questionable hands were an issue last seasons but it wasn’t because his hands were truly poor. It was an issue of focus and the mental weight of the talk and pressure that mounted with each drop. Johnson’s made extremely difficult catches in his NFL career. That one was as good as any. And he’s put in the work this summer. First on the field, catching passes with a coach, and doing the same after practice.
Pittsburgh’s offense was far from crisp and didn’t get going until the second half. But Johnson, like this unit, made the plays when they counted. And it was enough to get a win against one of the AFC’s top teams. Maybe that means the Steelers should be part of that conversation.