The Buffalo Bills, coming in as heavy underdogs to the Pittsburgh Steelers, nevertheless had them on the brink of defeat. Having come back to tie the game in the last seconds of regulation, the Bills were at the Steelers 40-yard line and driving. Buffalo's QB, Ryan Fitzpatrick, sensing weakness in the Pittsburgh secondary, dropped back a good ten yards, took advantage of the superior protection his offensive line was providing, girded up his loins and threw the pass of his career. It was a perfectly placed arcing bomb of a throw, lofting over the Steeler's secondary and towards the outstretched hands of Steve Johnson.
The call by CBS' play-by-play announcer Kevin Harlan:
"Levitre with the nice block at the guard. Going deep- he's got Johnson!"
See, I'm a big fan of "what if." Comic books do this all the time, telling alternate reality tales where one crucial event takes place differently, and we get to see the ramifications play out. I'd like to run through a quick what if scenario here.
"Johnson catches the ball! Touchdown, Bills! The Bills have defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers, 22-16!"
Johnson's end zone celebration would have been something relatively clever (as was his "Why So Serious?" joker t-shirt reply to the Bengals' Terrell Owens and Chad Johnson* being dubbed Batman and Robin), and the Bills would have been recognized as a team making serious strides to recover from their 0-8 start. Ryan Fitzpatrick would have been launched into the spotlight, and suddenly, the Bills would become a team to watch in 2011.
*That's Chad "So great is my vanity that I will disrespect my family by changing my last name to my uniform number" Johnson. I will NEVER, and I mean NEVER, report on him as Chad Ochocinco. EVER.
But that's NOT what happened.
"Oh, he dropped the ball! That would have been the game winner!"
The Steelers sacked Fitzpatrick two plays later, forcing the Bills to punt. They then drove down the field in a 13 play drive that ended with a Shaun Suisham 41 yard field goal to win. Johnson was reportedly inconsolable after the game, telling reporters he was "humbled" and that he would "never get over this." Mere hours later, he found a way to shift the blame off his own shoulders and onto a wider set. On his Twitter account, Johnson launched the following invective at the almighty:
"I PRAISE YOU 24/7!!!!!! AND THIS IS HOW YOU DO ME!!!!! YOU EXPECT ME TO LEARN FROM THIS??? HOW???!!! ILL NEVER FORGET THIS!! EVER!!! THX THO..."
He wants to know how he can learn from this? I think the better question is WHAT can he learn from this, and I think the answer is obvious, Steve: God hates the Buffalo Bills.
Don't blame yourself. This started long before you ever got into the picture. It started in the late hours of January 28, 1990, when Bills Coach Marv Levy, sitting at a bar in Buffalo, watching the Denver Broncos drop their fourth Super Bowl, said out loud "Man, I'd give anything for my team to make the Super Bowl four times." An impeccably dressed stranger smelling vaguely of cloves and sulfur smiled as he sat down next to the coach, laid a contract and a pen knife down upon the bar and said "let me help you with that."
Here's the sad thing; there is genuinely a learning opportunity to be had here, and it appears Johnson will miss it. He was likely more focused on what he was going to say, or do, or lift up his shirt and reveal, rather than actually catching the ball. The lesson to be had here is stop acting like a circus clown and focus on making the damned play.
It was refreshing to hear him say he was "humbled" by this loss. There are not enough players in the NFL who know what that word even means, let alone know how to act it. But he goes and drops his pants for all of the internet to see by refusing to take accountability for his own shortcomings. Unless he comes out and states he was Twittering to himself, which, ironically enough, is a possibility. He does seem to praise himself an awful lot.
Hey Steve, remember all those times when there was only one set of footprints in the sand? It's because God was busy pushing Scott Norwood's kick wide right.