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Stevie Johnson livid over performance in another Bills loss

By Tim Graham

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Stevie Johnson seethed.

The Buffalo Bills receiver was angry with the officials, angry with the result and -- most of all -- angry with himself after the Miami Dolphins beat the Bills 24-10 this afternoon in Sun Life Stadium.

Johnson had a day to forget -- if he can. He fumbled. He dropped passes. He failed to secure what should've been a touchdown, losing the ball after crossing the goal line and leaving the call open to interpretation.

He had one reception (which he coughed up) entering the fourth quarter and finished with four catches for 44 yards.

"I'm real upset about this game," Johnson said. "Most of the big plays, I was involved in. I didn't make them.

"Me being the competitor I am, I feel it's all on me."

Johnson was so sullen that running back Tashard Choice felt compelled to give him a pep talk in the locker room. As they stood in their street clothes, Choice implored Johnson to be an example for his teammates.

Johnson, in a teal ballcap with a dead dolphin floating upside down, nodded.

"He takes it so personally because he loves to win, loves to compete," Choice said. "With the season we've had, great players take it on themselves, and it shows in his frustration at times.

"With him being a leader on this team, he has to sometimes keep himself cool for the betterment of the team. He can drop 10 balls, but he still has to be uplifting because other guys look to him."

Johnson already had been charged with a questionable fumble call when his would-be touchdown was wiped away by side judge Jeff Lamberth's incompletion call in the second quarter.

Johnson made what appeared to be a slick 23-yard touchdown catch along the right sideline. He took two steps and lurched forward, crossing the goal line with the ball in his hands. But he lost the ball when he hit the ground.

Johnson went bonkers on Lamberth's incomplete signal.

"If that's the case, the goddamn fumble shouldn't have been a fumble," Johnson said. "That's what I was frustrated about. I held onto it longer than the fumble. If I didn't have possession of the touchdown, then I didn't have possession before the fumble."

Asked whether head coach Chan Gailey should have challenged the play, Johnson shrugged and said he should have caught the ball cleanly to erase any doubt.

Referee Walt Anderson explained Lamberth's call was correct because a receiver going to the ground must complete the catch. The confusion comes from the definition of "going to the ground" because Johnson took two steps before diving.

"We thought it was" a touchdown, Bills running back C.J. Spiller said. "But the ref made the call that he made. ... We definitely thought that he scored on that one."

Said quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick: "I thought he grabbed it, took a couple steps and then I guess when he went down and it popped out. But I don't know. That's all I saw."

Johnson's day started poorly. He fumbled on his first reception of the game, his 70th of the season to join Andre Reed as the only Bills to notch at least that many in three straight seasons.

Johnson still needs 65 yards to reach 1,000 for a third season in a row. Last year, he became the first Bills receiver to have consecutive 1,000-yard seasons.

"I'm counted on to be one of the playmakers of this team, of this offense," Johnson said. "Our defense stepped up and played very good, and I was nowhere to be found in the first half.

"Those are plays that I make. Those are plays I've made the entire season. Today, I didn't. The frustration on the field, I was mad. It was the heat of the moment, but at the end of the day it's on me to make those plays. That's what I'm here for."

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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham | tgraham@buffnews.com


Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan | mgaughan@buffnews.com


Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski | jskurski@buffnews.com

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