- Mike Rodak, ESPN Staff Writer
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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Buffalo Bills wide receiver Steve Johnson reacted Monday to a key pass he dropped in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 23-21 loss to the New England Patriots, saying the play was more difficult than it appeared.
"It looked like the play should have been made, but with my extending how I did, it was like my length just got my hands on the ball. I felt like it was harder than it was, what really happened," Johnson said. "Looking at the film, yeah, I was wide open. I beat the guy ... It was tougher than what it looked."
Johnson was open in the left flat after beating his defender on third-and-1. With 8:50 remaining in the game, the Bills punted to the Patriots, although they were unable to turn Johnson's drop into any points.
"At the end of the day, it's a drop," Johnson admitted.
Rookie quarterback EJ Manuel targeted Johnson six times, with the team's most veteran receiver making three catches, including an 18-yard touchdown grab early in the second half.
But coming into the game, Johnson said that the Patriots did not have "anybody that can stop me."
"The reaction is as expected. Everybody placing blame on me. It's OK. I felt like I put myself in that position," Johnson said Monday. "But that's not me putting on a front for anybody. Pretty much being who they've grown to love. I feel like there's no one who can guard me. Obviously it showed, but when you don't win a game, that's when you get that negative attention, and I deserve it."
Head coach Doug Marrone said Monday that he did not have a problem with Johnson's comments.
"People have to be who they are. You guys are going to ask tough questions, and you want them to answer it. You want people to be who they are and what they do," Marrone said. "As long as it's not a standpoint of giving away any strategic information... I think that's where I would have a problem with it."
Johnson did not speak to reporters after Sunday's loss, departing the locker room shortly after the game's end.
"Me being here for the amount of time that I've been here, it was just something personal against that team, I guess," he said. "It ended in the same way. That was my frustration. Nothing with anybody, nothing with any play. We know that you can't have a great game every week. Every play isn't going to be perfect. The game, it can go either way, and I felt like we've been to this point too many times. It is what it is and they came in and took one from us. We'll be ready for them next time."
Added Johnson: "I take every [loss] personally. I hate to lose. We deal with losing in different ways. I have to be better about it. I don't think I'll ever grow accustomed to losing games."
Marrone said it will be important for Johnson to not dwell on Sunday's performance.
"I know how much that weighs on him. My philosophy has always been, when you have a player that every single day comes out here and works and the player likes Stevie, and all the things that he's done, you have to come back to that player," Marrone said. "We have a lot of faith in him. There is not a player in this league that hasn't dropped a football. If you haven't, that means you haven't gotten a lot of balls thrown to you.
"I have the utmost confidence in Stevie. He takes those things hard. What he has to do is, and he knows this, is you have to shake it off and come back and make a play. And he will."