After a season of letdowns, the Bills and wide receiver Stevie Johnson concluded their year on a bright note Sunday beating the New York Jets 28-9 at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Johnson came into the game needing just 65 yards to eclipse 1,000 yards receiving for his third consecutive year. Johnson didn't disappoint.
The fifth-year man hauled in six catches for 111 yards to give him 79 receptions and 1,046 yards this season. The performance marked his third 100-yard receiving game of the season and seventh of his career.
Johnson admitted hitting the mark wasn't so sweet with the playoffs out of the picture.
"When we started the season off, we wanted to get to the playoffs and have a playoff berth. It didn't end up that way, so it's pretty weak as far as that goes," Johnson said. "Winning our last game and going out with a win against the New York Jets is even better."
Johnson didn't surpass 1,000 yards until the Bills first offensive play of the fourth quarter. Needing just three yards to reach 1,000, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick found Johnson deep on the right sideline where he pulled the ball down over his defender. The catch went for 37 yards and jump started an eventual touchdown drive that put the Bills up two scores.
Fitzpatrick said he was aware of getting Johnson the ball.
"Yeah, that was big," Fitzpatrick said. "We want to go in and win the game. I was very conscious of that going into the game in terms of Stevie and the 65 yards. He has just been a guy that has been great for me just in terms of coming up to make big plays. The catch he made down the sideline I thought was pretty unbelievable. It got that drive going. He really stepped up big for us."
Johnson got the offense going right away with an 11-yard grab over the middle on the Bills first play of the game. Fitzpatrick continued to find Johnson on first down as his next catch went for 29 yards to the Jets 44 with under a minute to go in the half.
Three of Johnson's six catches came on first downs and all went over 15 yards. The other three came on third downs, two of which gave the Bills a new set of downs.
Johnson only managed to grab two balls for 40 yards in the first half. The former Kentucky Wildcat said limited opportunities were a factor in the passing game's early struggles.
"It was just time," Johnson said. "We probably only had four offensive series in the first half, so you know how that goes. You have to get it going on the first drive. We came back on offense in the second half and settled down. We kept going to our game plan and we ended up clicking on the passes."
Head Coach Chan Gailey noted there was little concern on his mind of getting Johnson to 1,000 yards.
"No, I was not thinking about that," said Gailey. "I think if we had gotten to the fourth quarter and he had needed five yards, we would have probably tried to do something to get that done. I cannot say I am totally oblivious to that stuff, but the first priority is to win the game."
Even after making it to 1,000 yards again, Johnson said he was upset with the outcome of the season.
"It's all the same because we didn't make it to the playoffs and didn't go to the Super Bowl," said Johnson on if this was the most disappointing season of the last three. "I don't want to say one is worse than any other because ultimately we didn't get anywhere.
"We have to continue to work. We have to have bigger goals. When we started the season, we can't be going into games saying, 'maybe this will be the one.' 'This has to be the one. This will be the one.' That has to be the mindset. I think a lot of the guys learned that including myself, but it's just too little, too late."