- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Staff Writer
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With Johnson, it has reached the point where the extraordinary has become expected for the best receiver in the NFL and a player who is in the conversation as possibly the top receiver of all-time.
So for Johnson to win the Bridgestone Performance Play of the Year on Saturday night is not a huge surprise -- especially after what he did against Cincinnati on Oct. 20.
After quarterback Matthew Stafford scrambled to buy some time, Johnson ran across the field on a deep pattern toward the end zone. Stafford threw it up milliseconds before being hit and Johnson leap and snagged the ball between three defenders for a 50-yard touchdown.
“Oh man,” Detroit wide receiver Kris Durham said that day. “That was in triple coverage. You’ve just got to say ‘Wow.’
“He’s probably the only person I’ve ever seen that could be able to make that play.”
While people will remember the triple-coverage catch, the play was improbable for a ton of reasons. First, Stafford had to buy some time, and stepped up to make the throw after scrambling a bit. Second, he had to get enough height and velocity on it to put it 50 yards on a dime to a streaking Johnson. Third, the Lions had a hobbled left tackle, Riley Reiff, and a right tackle in LaAdrian Waddle seeing his first significant action of his career.
And Johnson was helped by poor timing and coverage by Cincinnati defenders. All of it made an unbelievable play in a career full of them.
If you want to read more on the play when it happened, take a peek inside the play here.