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Steelers’ Diontae Johnson Responds To Being Called Out For Effort

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson went viral over the weekend for a play against the Cincinnati Bengals. However, it wasn’t for anything positive, which put Johnson in the crosshairs of many people on social media.

Running back Jaylen Warren was fighting for extra yardage in the first quarter on the team’s second drive of the game. While lunging forward, Bengals defensive lineman Zachary Carter knocked the ball loose and it was recovered by defensive back DJ Turner.

Some players on the field thought the play was dead, which led to some confusion. But, the one thing that stood out was the effort, or lack thereof, by Johnson. One of the reasons Turner was able to recover the ball so easily was because Johnson watched the ball bounce free in the now-viral clip.

NFL News & Rumors: Diontae Johnson, Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers Updates

People captioned the video with some funny quips, such as ‘me back at work after the Thanksgiving holiday’. But, it wasn’t a laughing matter for the Steelers, as Johnson’s alarming lack of effort could have cost his team.

The fumble came at the Bengals’ 16-yard line. Depending on where Warren was spotted, he could have gained the first down or at the very least set the Steelers up for a fourth-and-short. Even if head coach Mike Tomlin didn’t press his luck, his team was in position to take a 3-0 lead.

It was something that Johnson addressed with his teammates to take accountability for his actions.

“My teammates, they know how I feel and how I should go about the situation,” Johnson said. “Next time it occurs or whatever, I own up to it. I’m not perfect.”

Johnson later added: “I feel like I did the right thing by standing up in front of the team and telling them, owning up to my mistake. All I can do is just move forward.”

It was awful timing for Johnson, as he dropped what would have been a touchdown pass from Kenny Pickett on the play before the fumble. A player moping about not finishing a touchdown watching a fumble by his teammate bounce away is certainly not a good look, and one Johnson wants to erase.

NFL News & Rumors: Diontae Johnson, Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers Updates

On Wednesday, he addressed a group of reporters, speaking about the error he made and taking responsibility for his actions.

“That’s not me as a player,” he said. “One play doesn’t define me, never will. I didn’t come up playing football like that, so obviously it looks bad on film. From here on out, just going forward, just be smart, keep playing ’til the whistle blows.”

It is encouraging to see Johnson take responsibility for his shortcomings. Now, all he can do is perform better next time, putting forth the kind of effort the Steelers organization and his teammates deserve from him.

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