If you’re a Pittsburgh Steelers’ fan and hear the name “Stevie Johnson,” there’s one play and only one play that comes to mind. His 2010 dropped game-winning touchdown in an overtime game against the Steelers, a matchup Pittsburgh won thanks to Johnson’s monumental mistake.
Johnson appeared on an ESPN interview posted Thursday and reflected on that moment.
“I know I let people down,” Johnson told ESPN’s Alaina Getzenberg .”My teammates, and the city I represented, and myself. I was sad. I was super sad because that had never happened before.”
If you need (or want) the reminder, here it is. After the Bills tied the game up to send things into overtime, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick found Johnson open in the end zone for what would’ve been the uncontested, game-winning score. But Johnson saw it slip through his fingers and fall incomplete, taking the life out of the Bills’ home crowd.
Late in overtime, Steelers’ kicker Shaun Suisham nailed a 41-yard field goal to give Pittsburgh a 19-16 win. That only magnified Johnson’s drop – not his only one of the day – and after the game, he emotionally tried to explain what happened.
“I came to the back of the end zone and had the game in my hands. And then dropped it. That’s it…it just so happened today I had 75 drops in a game. Humbled.”
He would later tell reporters he will “never get over” the moment. Nearly 15 years later and Johnson is able to strike a more optimistic tone.
“It’s not gonna be perfect,” he told Getzenberg. “But you’re gonna be alright.”
Johnson said he’s only occasionally reminded of the play, usually from Twitter trolls responding to something he says on social media. And sometimes, Bills fans will come up to him and praise his career but tell him about the money they lost that day betting on Buffalo. But he also revealed his work habits leading up that game were poor and may have been a reason for his struggles.
“I took that play off in practice. ‘Yeah, I’ll make it, whatever.’ And I missed it. That’s where you gotta hustle, that’s where you gotta stay on it…that was a learning game for me.”
Since his playing days, Johnson remains close with Bills Mafia, who have forgiven him for that day, and seems active in his community. He’s also dabbled in coaching, named the head coach of Rodriguez High School in 2020, though that lasted for just one season, citing family reasons.
While Johnson will be remembered for that ugly moment, he’s able to take it in stride. He was a talented wide receiver who fought drop issues throughout his career but still managed to put together three straight 100+ yard seasons from 2010 to 2012 and enjoyed a long eight-year career in the NFL. Steeler’ fans, though, will always thank him for that drop.
You can catch the entire interview with Johnson below.