On Sunday afternoon, it was the Jets cornerback who seemed stranded on “Revis Island.”
It was a change of roles for a player who infamously takes wide receivers out of games.
But the Bills’ Stevie Johnson, despite his team losing 28-24, hauled in eight receptions for 75 yards and a touchdown while being covered by Darrelle Revis. It was a big day for Johnson, coming from a quarterback in Ryan Fitzpatrick who is ranked in the bottom half of the league in passing yards. Johnson took away the sting from the game’s most dominant player in the secondary and almost did enough to key a Buffalo victory.
“You got to look at it that you’re not going to have a perfect game all the time; you’re not going to have your best game all the time. I have had horrible games in the past. You have to live with the good ones; you have to live with the bad ones. Looking at the film, was it that bad? No, it wasn’t. It was a lot of underneath throws,” Revis said. “In our defense we can live with that. We can live with that and move on. The one thing we really focus on is getting beat; that’s the thing. It was what it was.”
The game may have gone the right way for Revis and his team, but there’s no denying that he was exposed by the Bills’ passing attack. Utilizing primarily underneath routes, Johnson was able to get himself in position to catch a variety of slants and quick throws, using his 6-foot-2, 210-pound frame to get inside Revis. It wasn’t anything terribly pretty or noteworthy, but Revis was continually a step behind Johnson.
With no answer for how to slow down this methodical style of play, Revis was forced to give a cushion to prevent passes over the top for a big gain. This allowed Johnson to continually pick up soft catches for short gains. The eight receptions in Week 12 were tied for the most he’s had this season, but his 9.4 yards per catch was well below the 12.4 average he carried into the game, a result of the Bills targeting the underside of the Jets secondary.
When these two teams met three weeks ago, Johnson was limited to just three catches and the Bills set out to make Sunday a different story.
“He is a great corner and a really good player. I felt like coming out of the last game I didn’t throw it to Stevie as much as I should have,” Fitzpatrick said. “I let Stevie know when it’s one-on-one, ‘I’m throwing it to you every time.’ Stevie did a good job all day with his routes and catches and they started double teaming a little bit and giving him some help.”
It wasn’t all good from Johnson, who infamously was penalized 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct following his second quarter touchdown. That decision ended up gifting the Jets tremendous field position and led to a touchdown four plays later. The fourth-year wide receiver also had a bad drop in the fourth quarter on a play that looked like it could have gone for the game’s winning touchdown.
There is no denying that Johnson showed up and played in a way few receivers do against Revis. But despite the stats from the game, Revis and the rest of the secondary did enough to get the win and take a big step toward possibly making the playoffs. For a team now 6-5, that’s all matters.
“I don’t necessarily know that he got the best of Revis. Revis gave up a touchdown [and] it’s the first time that’s happened all season. He’s human,” head coach Rex Ryan said. “He’s still way better than any corner in football — head and shoulders better. I’m not going to say that the kid got the best of him. He had 75 yards receiving. I don’t want to say anything that we did or whatever, but I’ll give the young man credit. He made some great catches. I think the guy is a great talent, but he never got the better of Revis.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.