Johnson, Bills learning from mistakes

Johnson, Bills learning from mistakes

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com

FOXBORO -- Bills wide receiver Steve Johnson described the Patriots offense as "legit" in a conference call on Wednesday, and says the Bills will need to prevail in a "shootout" if they're to come away with a victory Sunday.

Johnson seems to understand the situation his 4-10 Bills are in. But in winning four of its last six games, Buffalo is a team that's been playing much better than it was when it began the season with an 0-8 record.

This season has been a complete learning experience for the Bills, and more specifically, for Johnson.

The last time he played against the Patriots, Johnson had 3 receptions for 66 yards and a touchdown in Buffalo's 38-30 Week 3 loss at Gillettte. The most memorable part of that 37-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was Johnson's 15-yard unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty after the score, which he drew for colorfully blasting off an imaginary musket, mocking New England's mascots.

The last time you've probably seen Johnson in the national spotlight was in Week 12, when he dropped a potential game-winning 40-yard pass in the end zone while wide open in the opening minutes of overtime against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Three plays later, Buffalo punted, and the Steelers scored a game-winning field goal on the drive.

Johnson's postgame press conference showed an ever-so-emotional third-year receiver, desperate to learn from his mistakes. He reiterated that emotion on Wednesday.

"Besides football, I don't have no other job," said Johnson. "I have everything in this thing, this football thing. So when I don't perform to how I feel I should be out there, I take it hard. Because this is how I eat. This is really my life. This is my family's life too. So I feel like I have to make all those plays."

Johnson has 943 receiving yards and 10 touchdown receptions this season. He considers his breakout season a product of opportunity.

"I haven't done anything over the top, or did anything too different," said Johnson. "It was just opportunity. And when guys that I learned a lot from, which is Terrell Owens and Josh Reed, when they ended up leaving, or when the coaches didn't bring them back, it just opened up a spot for me."

And he's thrived on it. Sure, he -- and his teammates -- made some mistakes along the way. But he believes Buffalo should now start to be taken seriously.

"We've went from wanting to go out there, showing that we can play with a team, to going out there and wanting to show that we will win against teams like New England," said Johnson. "That's the difference in our mentality."

Entering Sunday's rematch with the Patriots, Johnson believes there's not much different with New England's defense from the last time they met in Week 3. And perhaps, saying that is another mistake he'll have to learn from.

"It's an athletic defense," said Johnson. "They're aggressive, talented, but you know, everybody's like that on Sundays, especially in the NFL. So it's everything that we've seen.

"I can't really say that there's too much of a change," added Johnson. "They're still running the same defenses, so there's not too much of a difference. They're more comfortable in their places, and that's pretty much the only thing that I can say about it."

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard. You can listen to Danny on his streaming radio show I'm Just Sayin' Monday-Friday from 9-10 a.m. on CSNNE.com.

Curran’s 100 plays that shaped a dynasty: A nice pair of kicks

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Curran’s 100 plays that shaped a dynasty: A nice pair of kicks

We're into the Top 10 now.

These are the plays of the Bill Belichick Era you best never forget. And probably can't. They're the ones that led directly to championships -- most for New England, a couple for the other guys. Or they're plays that signified a sea change in the way the New England Patriots under Belichick would be behaving from there on out.

I did my best to stack them in order of importance. You got a problem with that? Good. Let us know what's too high, too low or just plain wrong. And thanks for keeping up!

PLAY NUMBER: 4

THE YEAR: 2001 (actually Feb. 3, 2002)

THE GAME: Patriots 20, Rams 17

THE PLAY: Vinatieri 48-yarder in Superdome delivers SB36 win

WHY IT’S HERE: When the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004, it was viewed nationally and locally as a cathartic moment for a long-suffering region. Deliverance for a fanbase that resolutely suffered through 90 years of star-crossed heartbreak with a mix of stoicism and fatalism. “Long-suffering Red Sox fan” was a badge of honor, an identity. And New Englanders – baseball fans or not - would self-identify with the hideous notion of Red Sox Nation. There was no “Patriots Nation.” To drag out the forced metaphor, Patriots fans were living in tents and cabins in the wilderness, recluses. Reluctant to be seen in town where they’d be mocked. And suddenly, they cobbled together one of the most improbable, magical seasons in American professional sports, a year which gave birth to a dynasty which was first celebrated, now reviled but always respected. And while so many games and plays led to this 48-yarder – ones we’ve mentioned 12 times on this list – Adam Vinatieri kicking a 48-yarder right down the f****** middle to win the Super Bowl was an orgasmic moment for the recluses and pariahs that had been Patriots fans when nobody would admit to such a thing.
 

PLAY NUMBER: 3

THE YEAR: 2001 (actually Jan. 19, 2002)

THE GAME: Patriots 16, Raiders 13

THE PLAY: Vinatieri from 45 through a blizzard to tie Snow Bowl

WHY IT’S HERE: Two thoughts traveling on parallel tracks were running through the mind while Adam Vinatieri trotted onto the field and lined up his 45-yarder to tie Oakland in the 2001 AFC Divisional Playoff Game, the final one at Foxboro Stadium. “There’s no way he can make this kick in this weather,” was the first. “The way this season’s gone, I bet he makes this kick. It can’t end here. It can’t end now.” From where I was sitting in the press box I couldn’t see the ball clearly, probably because I was looking for it on a higher trajectory than Vinatieri used. So I remember Vinatieri going through the ball, my being unable to locate it in the air and then looking for the refs under the goalposts to see their signal. And when I located them, I saw the ball scuttle past. Then I saw the officials’ arms rise. Twenty-five years earlier, the first team I ever followed passionately – the ’76 Patriots – left me in tears when they lost to the Raiders in the playoffs. Now, at 33, I was covering that team and it had gotten a measure of retribution for the 8-year-old me.