PITTSBURGH — Diontae Johnson regretted his lack of effort on Jaylen Warren’s fumble in Pittsburgh’s 16-10 win over the Bengals on Sunday. On Wednesday, Johnson got in front of his teammates to address the lack of effort, and he expressed that on film, it was naturally a bad look.
“I addressed the situation to them,” Johnson said. “To my teammates, and I know how they feel. I know how I should go about the situation next time when it occurs. I just owned up to it. I’m not perfect. All I can do is move forward and keep playing football.”
Johnson expects to be in the starting lineup after expressing that extreme regret. He says his teammates did not have much of a reaction to what he said and that it was more about accountability and owning up to it in the locker room rather than doing anything else. If he could do it again, Johnson says that he would jump on the football and let his teammates know it won’t happen again.
“They didn’t really say anything,” Johnson said. “It was about me owning up to my mistakes and letting them know it won’t happen again. Like I said, I didn’t know the play was still going. If I could make the play again, I would jump on the ball.”
Great effort by Diontae Johnson here… pic.twitter.com/oadS5cBW8y
— NFL Retweet (@NFLRT) November 26, 2023
This all comes a day after head coach Mike Tomlin said that Diontae Johnson would have to answer for the lack of effort, noting that Johnson has to control his emotions from play to play. More than that, it is something that his teammates could look down upon, and Johnson answered for that.
“Diontae can’t let the emotions of the previous down affect his next down,” Tomlin said on Tuesday. “But I’ll give him an opportunity to address that with [media]. I’ll give him an opportunity to address that with his teammates. I’m not going to add any additional color. I think plays like that are best described and outlined in those involved, and less so by guys like me. I keep my attention on challenging things that await us this week. Schematic preparation for Arizona and the readiness of this group. It’s something that he needs to answer for, and so I’ll give him an opportunity to do that. His teammates will give him an opportunity to do that.”
That play came directly after the play where the Steelers may have caught a touchdown, but the refs did not see it, and Mike Tomlin did not challenge it. Johnson believed he had ‘three feet’ in front of him on the play, but it never mattered, as Tomlin said he never got a good enough look to challenge the play.
It should noted that Johnson was adamant towards his sideline on that play, and the Warren fumble came the play directly after that. The Steelers out-gained the Bengals 421-222, and the clubs were even in turnovers, but the Steelers’ sudden inefficiency in the red zone was an issue for them all day.
Johnson hopes to move on from everything and turn over a new leaf. He has worked on controlling his emotions, but the emotional part of the game is not something he tries to do on purpose. He’s human, after all, and the emotions just get to him.
“It’s not something I try to do on purpose,” Johnson said. “Nobody is out there trying to mess up. I’m human just like everybody else out here. It’s my job. I know what I have to do. I’m not perfect. All I can do is go out and keep trying to make plays. They won’t all go your way. But that’s all I can do, I keep trying.”
Johnson is key to Pittsburgh’s hopes of an improved offense and has taken accountability for it. Will there be punishment coming? That is anyone’s best guess. But Johnson has shown remorse and that is all he can do at this point.
“That’s not me as a player. That one play doesn’t define me,” Johnson said. “It never will. … From here on out, going forward, just be smart. Just keep playing until the whistle blows.”