Breaking Down the 2011 Season's Week 11 Darrelle Revis-Stevie Johnson Battle
The myth was born last season when Johnson caught a number of short passes against Revis in the New York Jets' Week 11 win over the Buffalo Bills. Johnson's average numbers of eight catches for 75 yards drew gasps from Jets haters across the country because those are numbers that Revis doesn't even give up in a month of play, let alone one week.
The New York papers were even in on the propaganda as New York Newsday blurted the headline "Stevie Johnson shows that Darrelle Revis is human" and proclaimed that Johnson "often got the best of Revis."
With the Jets set to face the Bills on opening day, the focus again is on the Revis-Johnson matchup. The Daily News' Manish Mehta wrote a reaction piece in which Revis and Rex Ryan were asked about last year's matchup.
Predictably, Revis brushed off the notion that Johnson got the better of the matchup, saying that he "isn't panicking because a guy got 70 yards," while Ryan was a little more demonstrative.
“Stevie Johnson’s a good receiver and he’s caught some balls, but I wouldn’t say he’s got Darrelle Revis’ number. He goes up against all types: Big, strong, fast, shifty. He goes against them all. And I’ve never walked out of a game saying, ‘This player got the best of Darrelle Revis.’ Never. Never felt that way. Do you realize how special this guy is? It is amazing what we ask him to do.”
Johnson's performance in this game can be traced back to the third quarter of a Week 8 game in which the Jets topped the Bills 27-11.
Revis held Johnson without a catch for the first three-and-a-half quarters, but with the Jets holding a tenuous 13-0 lead, Johnson blew by Revis for a 52-yard reception to set up a field goal.
The play came on a 3rd-and-5 situation with Revis lining up right on Johnson.
So in the Week 11 matchup, Revis wasn't going to let Johnson blow by him again just three weeks later to possibly break open a pivotal game in which both teams stood at 5-5 at the start.
So what's the truth?
This catch-by-catch breakdown takes a look at Johnson's day against Revis in Week 11 last year.
You can decide for yourself if this was just an average day against the best cornerback in the game or if Johnson did indeed get the best of Revis.
Play-by-play account according to pro-football-reference.com
1st quarter, 2nd-and-9: Short pass thrown incomplete to Johnson (defended by Revis)
1st quarter, 2nd-and-13: Pass complete to Johnson for 9 yards (tackled by Revis)
1st quarter, 1st-and-20: Pass complete to Johnson for 15 yards (tackled by Jim Leonhard)
Who got the best of the Revis-Johson matchup last year in Week 11?
2nd quarter, 2nd-and-15: Pass complete to Johnson for 9 yards (tackled by Revis)
2nd quarter, 3rd-and-6: Pass complete to Johnson for 7 yards (tackled by Revis)
2nd quarter, 1st-and-5: Touchdown pass complete to Johnson for 5 yards (Revis on coverage)
2nd quarter, 2nd-and-10: Short pass thrown incomplete to Johnson (defended by Revis)
3rd quarter, 1st-and-10: Pass complete to Johnson for 8 yards (tackled by Revis)
3rd quarter, 1st-and-10: Pass complete to Johnson for 7 yards (tackled by Revis)
4th quarter, 1st-and-20: Pass complete to Johnson for 16 yards (tackled by Revis)
4th quarter, 2nd-and-9: Pass incomplete to Johnson (defended by Revis)
4th quarter, 2nd-and-7: Pass dropped by Johnson (coverage by Revis)
4th quarter, 2nd-and-7: Pass incomplete to Johnson (defended by Revis)
Of Johnson's eight receptions on Revis, six of them came with Revis playing off Johnson, guarding against the deep threat. All of those six catches went for less than the yardage required for a first-down conversion.
Johnson did convert one third down against Revis, when he caught a seven-yard pass on a 3rd-and-6 play in the second quarter. Three plays later in that drive, the Bills were forced to punt.
Johnson's biggest play was a five-yard touchdown caught against Revis. Revis initially lined up right on Johnson, but then backed off to the goal line despite having no help to the inside. This gave Johnson a wide-open inside slant to the goal line, which Fitzpatrick read perfectly.
This was the play that Johnson went through his ridiculous touchdown celebration, which drew a 15-yard penalty and helped the Jets answer his score with a touchdown of their own just four plays later.
The battle could have been tilted convincingly in Johnson's favor late in the game as the Bills were driving for a potential game-winning score. Johnson actually beat Revis inside, but then dropped what could have been a touchdown pass with 15 seconds left in the game.
In the end, it was clear that Revis and the Jets were content to let Johnson catch a series of short passes in exchange for not allowing him to catch a deep pass. Johnson was targeted 13 times, with only one of the passes coming on an attempted deep throw.
Half of Johnson's catches came in double-stick situations, where the Bills had more than 10 yards to go for a first down.
With the game tied 21-21, Johnson caught his final pass on the first play of the fourth quarter. The Bills ran 20 offensive plays the remainder of the fourth quarter, none of which involved a catch by Johnson.
On the plus side for Johnson, he did have a reception on each drive that resulted in a Bills touchdown. Also, his back-to-back receptions in the second quarter for nine and seven yards respectively helped the Bills convert a 2nd-and-15.
So how does it all add up? Were the Bills simply playing into the Jets hands, eschewing the deep ball for six-and-seven-yard plays? Or did Johnson really have his way with Revis?
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