Football

Ex-Cat Johnson responds to controversial tweet

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Stevie Johnson's fine and his teammates had his back Monday, a day after the Buffalo Bills receiver was left questioning God and himself for dropping what would've been an overtime game-winning touchdown pass.

Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said there's no better way to keep Johnson's spirits up than to continue throwing him the ball, which is what he intends to do.

"I have 100 percent confidence in him," Fitzpatrick said. "That's the biggest thing. And I think that's the most important thing is for him to know that."

Center Geoff Hangartner isn't worried either.

"He knows we've got his back," Hangartner said. "There's no need to say anything. Everybody's made mistakes. He's no different than the rest of us. He'll be fine."

Johnson, who caught 13 touchdown passes as a senior at Kentucky, remained the focus of attention a day after dropping a 40-yard touchdown pass with 10:30 left in overtime of a 19-16 loss to Pittsburgh. The Steelers won on their next possession, when Shaun Suisham hit a 41-yard field goal.

Johnson spent the rest of the game sitting alone at the end of the bench watching the Steelers drive on the video board at the opposite end of the stadium. He was inconsolable afterward, calling the drop something he'll never get over.

And Johnson then raised eyebrows around the nation as news circulated of the tweet he posted on his Twitter account (steviejohnson13)an hour after the game by wondering how God could do this to him.

Johnson laid low for most of Monday, and was the lone receiver not to make himself available to reporters in the Bills locker room.

A few hours later, Johnson provided his response with a burst of seven tweets. They ranged from him dismissing the notion that he blamed God; questioning why Bills fans would bash one of their own; and noting that he's learned a lot in dealing with life's ups and downs.

One of the tweets said: "And no I did not blame God people! Seriously??!? Cmon! I simply cried out and asked why? Jus like yal did wen sumthin went wrong n ur life!"

Another: "Spoke to friends fam teammates and most importantly I spoke with my wife. I honestly believe evrything happens for a reason! Everything!"

And just like that, the swagger seemed back for the Bills' leading receiver who's enjoying a breakout season.

"This will definitely test everything that he values as a player, as a person," receiver Lee Evans said.

In a topsy-turvy, seven-day span, Johnson scored three touchdowns in rallying the Bills from a 21-point deficit to beat Cincinnati 49-31 on Nov. 21. A week later, the run ended with Johnson referring to himself as "humbled" and "devastated."

Selected in the 2008 seventh round, Johnson had to patiently wait two seasons before getting his shot at a starting job. He's thrived under the faith provided him by first-year coach Chan Gailey. Johnson leads the team with 59 catches, 796 yards and nine TDs.

Gailey said he can appreciate what Johnson's been through in having "run through the gamut of emotions in dealing with success and failure. He'll deal with it and he'll come out strong. He's a good man. He'll be fine."

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