PITTSBURGH — The Steelers did not always look like they were going to win on Sunday against the Ravens. That very much was true in the first half. The Steelers lacked any explosiveness in their offense. There was no cohesion. Then, just as a two-minute drill allowed the Steelers to get something going, Diontae Johnson had a critical drop that robbed the Steelers of a touchdown.
However, the drop was one that Johnson not only knew he had to take responsibility for but one he knew he would have to move on from quickly.
“I take all responsibility. I’ve got to catch the football,” Johnson said. “I can’t let that get in my head. I have to look forward to the next play. And I was able to do that. I capitalized on that in the second half. We got the offense going. Then, the splash plays came down the field.”
Johnson led the league in drops in 2020. However, to this point in 2021, Johnson’s hands have been spectacular. Even with the one gaffe, he weathered the storm. For Johnson, that shows his areas of growth both technically and mentally from just a little bit over a year ago.
“Last year, I don’t know what went wrong,” Johnson said. “I just had to remember, things will happen. It’s about how you respond. You just have to move on. I carry that mindset over. And it is why I was able to get into the endzone two more times.”
Even still, he got zero guidance from his quarterback. Rather, Johnson took it upon himself to do the necessary work to rectify his first half drop.
“He (Ben Roethlisberger) didn’t say anything,” Johnson said. “I knew what I had to do. I needed to respond. And I did that. I was able to turn around and capitalize.”
Johnson’s key mindset shift allowed him to take over the second half of Sunday’s game. With his two key touchdowns, including what ended up being the game-winning touchdown, Johnson was a massive catalyst in the success of the Steelers’ offense in the second half. After it, his quarterback was more than pleased with the heart Johnson showed.
“You can go against teams that are better than you or equal to you in terms of skill,” Roethlisberger said. “What’s going to separate you is your heart. I think today, we had guys that showed a lot of heart. He’s one. He dropped that ball and then he comes back and makes a bunch of tough catches, a bunch of physical tight plays, running for extra yards.”
This was the exact type of game the Steelers probably envisioned when they drafted Johnson in 2019. He was their go-to target on Sunday, even with Marlon Humphrey shadowing him all game.