PITTSBURGH — One drop never mattered to Diontae Johnson. While the one drop he had was a crucial and potentially backbreaking play, Johnson wavered through the adversity and came out of the other side. It came to a head when Johnson ran a gorgeous route to put Ravens star cornerback Marlon Humphrey in the blender to give the Steelers the lead. Not only was it an impressive route, but Johnson beat one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL.
Johnson runs what is known as a whip or pivot route. The Steelers recognize that the Ravens are going to give them a man coverage look, and Freiermuth runs a corner-post to draw some traffic towards Humphrey. That causes Humphrey to have to back off significantly and gives Johnson plenty of room to operate within the given green space. Humphrey fights over the top well, but Johnson’s change of direction is what makes this so simple and easy for the Steelers. Johnson merely needs one step to cut on a dime and change direction. That sell with his arms fully pumping and his head selling the drag route is great stuff from Johnson.
As Johnson noted from the look he saw, he simply used Humphrey’s tendencies against him during his route running master class here.
“I saw that there were no safeties,” Johnson said. “It was zero coverage. They do that a lot. So, I knew a lot of times we would run a pick route or something short. In that situation, Marlon likes to go over the top. So, we got a little traffic and I was able to come open because of that.”