The Bills have some added motivation going into their final game of the regular season with the chance to sweep the Patriots for the first time since 1999. Top wideout Stevie Johnson also has a chance to make team history if he can manage to post 36 yards receiving or more on Sunday. More than a record in the Bills books however, Johnson would like to remain with the franchise beyond this year.
Entering free agency this offseason, Johnson is fully aware he could be playing in his last game as a Bill.
"Since last week playing at the Ralph I thought about it walking on the field, walking off the field, looking around at the crowd," he said. "It's crazy because four years went by really fast when you're really only playing for two years of it. Just being in this city and how they adopted me… I've thought about it. I don't think I'll be somewhere else next year. I think I'll still be here next year, but if not it's a pretty crazy feeling."
Johnson admits he's going mainly on blind faith that he and the team can bridge the gap that has kept the two sides from reaching a contract extension. He said there hasn't been any new dialogue that he's aware of. The receiver reiterated his desire to remain with the franchise long term citing more than just his role in Buffalo's offense.
"It's not just the versatility as far as running routes and everything, the chemistry with the quarterback," he said. "It's the personal things too. That doesn't play out on the field, but just those types of things with people in this locker room (matter)."
The free-spirited wideout believes he and Ryan Fitzpatrick have proven themselves to be a productive combination in Buffalo's passing game. He can't see the organization wanting to break that up.
"I just feel like being here four years and with the coaches that I have here and the players with Fitz signing his deal you would think you would have the one-two punch," he said. "When Fitz came on, I came on so you would think you'd keep that together."
Johnson sits just 36 yards from becoming the first receiver in Bills history to post back-to-back 1,000-yard receiving seasons. The top two receivers in team history Andre Reed and Eric Moulds came close, but never stacked one 1,000-yard season on top of another. That production would be difficult to replace if Johnson was not re-signed, and hurt Fitzpatrick's ability to make plays in the passing game in the process.
As much as Johnson pushed his potential milestone aside, he did admit that as trying as the season has been for him physically he would take some measure of pride in achieving it.
"With this record coming it's about dedication," he said. "There was a lot of work put into it. To get it would be great, if not I'll be disappointed, but for the most part I'm just trying to get us a win."
That's what drove Johnson to be out on the field every Sunday this season despite nagging and persistent groin and shoulder injuries that kept him from being at his best. If he's able to reach the 1,000-yard plateau however, it won't be any sweeter for him having done it all nicked up.
"We still didn't get to the playoffs so there's nothing to brag or boast about," Johnson said. "It's all nonsense really."
Johnson, like many players on Buffalo's roster, wants to see things through when it comes to the fortunes of this franchise. He wants to put in the time with a lot of the same guys he's been with for the past four seasons to finally taste the playoffs.
In the end though, Johnson realizes he can't predict whether he'll be part of the Bills future.
"Some guys have moved and had success like Brandon Marshall," said Johnson. "He's doing pretty good over there in Miami and he was doing good in Denver. Sometimes it's good and sometimes it's not. But it's really nothing I can call. You don't know what it's going to be like on another team and in another area. This is where I feel comfortable."