Bills WR Johnson plays Jaguars with heavy heart
Buffalo Bills receiver Stevie Johnson could have flown home –
and no one would have blamed him.
Johnson’s mother died unexpectedly Saturday at her Northern
California home. Rhonda Lewis was 48.
Johnson and the Bills had already arrived in Jacksonville when
he heard the devastating news. He sat down with coach Doug Marrone,
who gave him the option of leaving or staying for Sunday’s game
against the Jaguars.
Johnson decided to stay with his teammates, and he opted not to
tell any of them.
”Whatever I can do to help out the team,” Johnson told a small
group of reporters in the hallway after the game. ”I think I
should give it my all no matter what. It was tough, but we got the
win and I’m happy about that and I’m sure she’s happy about
Johnson finished with one catch for 4 yards in Buffalo’s 27-20
But he garnered praise from Marrone and his teammate for how he
handled a difficult situation.
”It says a lot about Stevie that he decided to play,” rookie
quarterback EJ Manuel said. ”We all look up to Stevie, especially
us rookies on offense. He makes a lot of huge plays for us. He’s a
difference-maker on offense. It was a matter of him not wanting to
be a distraction to the team or for anybody to feel bad for him. He
just wanted us to go out there and get a win.”
The Bills (5-9) scored twice in the final 2:14 in the first half
to open up a 20-10 lead. And they answered on both sides of the
ball when Jacksonville had chances down the stretch.
”It’s a tough situation,” Marrone said. ”It’s a very personal
issue. We discussed it. It was in his corner to say what he would
like to do and then I have to make a decision whether I’m
comfortable with that and he’s able to perform, which I thought he
Johnson leads the Bills with 52 receptions for 597 yards and
three touchdowns. With two games remaining, it’s unlikely he will
reach 1,000 yards receiving for the fourth consecutive year.
But that meant little Sunday – at least after teammates learned
what he was going through.
”It was something he kind of kept to himself,” running back
Fred Jackson said. ”He didn’t want to bother us. We appreciate
him. We appreciate him coming out here and fighting with us and
doing everything he could.”
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org