Orchard Park, NY (WGR 550) -- The scene was set. The Buffalo Bills had the ball just a yard shy of midfield on a 3rd-and-1 situation, a one-point lead and only 8:54 to go in the game.
Rookie quarterback EJ Manuel took the snap in shotgun formation, while wideout Stevie Johnson took two steps inside from the slot, pivoted, and cut back outside towards the sidelines one-yard past the first-down marker. Leaving his man in the dust, Johnson was wide open with room to roam if the catch was completed.
Manuel spotted to breakdown, delivered the pass and the ball bounced off the webbings of Johnson's fingers and hit the turf signaling an incomplete pass.
It was a key moment of the Bills' loss to the New England Patriots, forcing his team to punt the ball away back into the hands of Tom Brady. If the Bills had gotten it into New England territory, who knows how things could have ended differently.
The fact that fans will never know how it could have happened is what's driving many mad.
After the game Johnson hurried out of the locker room with his 'Joker' smile still drawn onto his face. not allowing reporters to get a glimpse into what went wrong on that very play.
On Monday, Johnson spoke with reporters and agreed that the play was a drop, but said it may there was more grey than just black and white.
"It looked like the play should have been made, but with me extending how I did, it was like my length just got my hands on the ball. I felt like it was harder than it was, what really happened," Johnson said. "Looking at the film, yeah, I was wide open. I beat the guy ... It was tougher than what it looked."
The team's top paid wideout revealed that he hadn't had any words about the play with head coach Doug Marrone, but the coach did bring up what he would say to Johnson if they were to have that discussion.
"I'd say 'Hey, I know you're disappointed. You put a lot of work into this thing. But just get ready because as soon as you come back on this field, we're going to come right back to you,'" Marrone remarked. "Get him focused on the next play and what he can make, rather than have him looking back and getting frustrated."
Following the drop, Johnson was called to task about his remarks leading up to the Bills' tilt with the Patriots. Last Thursday, Johnson remarked that he didn't believe anyone on the New England roster could cover him.
The wideout said he knew the backlash was on its way.
"The reaction is as expected. Everybody placing blame on me. It's okay. I felt like I put myself in that position," he said. "But that's not me putting on a front for anybody. Pretty much being who they've grown to love. I feel like there's no one who can guard me. Obviously it showed, but when you don't win a game at the end of the day, that's when you get that negative attention, and I deserve it."
Johnson saying he can't be covered is nothing new to those that have been paying attention throughout his career. There is concern as to whether or not Marrone would have a problem with the wideout's public approach.
"People have to be who they are," the coach said Monday. "[Reporters] are going to ask tough questions, and you want them to answer it. You want people to be who they are and what they do. As long as it's not a standpoint of giving away any strategic information, I think that's where I would have a problem with it."
Johnson and the rest of his teammates get back to practice on Wednesday in preparation for their bout with the Carolina Panthers in Week 2.