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By JOHN WAWROW
AP Sports Writer
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) Ã¢â‚¬â€ Stevie JohnsonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s fine and his teammates had his back Monday, a day after the Buffalo Bills receiver was left questioning God and himself for dropping what wouldÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been an overtime game-winning touchdown pass.
Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick says thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s no better way to keep JohnsonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s spirits up than to continue throwing him the ball, which is what he intends to do.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I have 100 percent confidence in him,Ã¢â‚¬Â Fitzpatrick said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the biggest thing. And I think thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the most important thing is for him to know that.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Center Geoff Hangartner isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t worried either.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“He knows weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve got his back,Ã¢â‚¬Â Hangartner said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“ThereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s no need to say anything. EverybodyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s made mistakes. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s no different than the rest of us. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll be fine.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Johnson remained the focus of attention a day after dropping a 40-yard touchdown pass with 10:30 left in overtime of a 19-16 loss to Pittsburgh. The Steelers won on their next possession, when Shaun Suisham hit a 41-yard field goal.
Johnson spent the rest of the game sitting alone at the end of the bench watching the Steelers drive on the video board at the opposite end of the stadium. He was inconsolable afterward, calling the drop something heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll never get over.
And Johnson then raised eyebrows around the nation as news circulated of the tweet he posted on his Twitter account an hour after the game by wondering how God could do this to him.
Johnson laid low for most of Monday, and was the lone receiver not to make himself available to reporters in the Bills locker room.
A few hours later, Johnson provided his response with a burst of seven tweets. They ranged from him dismissing the notion that he blamed God; questioning why Bills fans would bash one of their own; and noting that heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s learned a lot in dealing with lifeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s ups and downs.
And just like that, the swagger seemed back for the Bills leading receiver whoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s enjoying a breakout season.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“This will definitely test everything that he values as a player, as a person,Ã¢â‚¬Â receiver Lee Evans said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“But if he can overcome it, heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll be much better.Ã¢â‚¬Â
It just goes to show how quickly things change in the NFL. In a topsy-turvy, seven-day span, Johnson scored three touchdowns in rallying the Bills from a 21-point deficit to beat Cincinnati 49-31 on Nov. 21. A week later, the run ended with Johnson referring to himself as Ã¢â‚¬Å“humbledÃ¢â‚¬Â and Ã¢â‚¬Å“devastated.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Kind of makes one wonder whatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s in store next Sunday, when Buffalo (2-9) plays at Minnesota (4-7).
Ã¢â‚¬Å“ThereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s nobody that can wave a magic stick to make things go away. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll have to figure that out,Ã¢â‚¬Â Evans said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“But I think thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the type of guy he is. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s come through some tough things before.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Selected by Buffalo in the 2008 seventh round out of Kentucky, Johnson had to patiently wait two seasons before getting his shot at a starting job. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s thrived this season under the faith provided him by first-year coach Chan Gailey.
Johnson leads the team with 59 catches, 796 yards and nine touchdowns. Overall, he ranks 11th in the NFL in receiving yards and is tied for fifth in scores.
Gailey said he can appreciate what JohnsonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s been through in having Ã¢â‚¬Å“run through the gamut of emotions in dealing with success and failure. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll deal with it and heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll come out strong. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a good man. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll be fine.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Gailey doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t intend to change his approach with Johnson this week.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“If you start treating stuff with kid gloves or start treating it with a hammer, youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re making a mistake,Ã¢â‚¬Â Gailey said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I want to make sure that things donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t change because a guy has a bad game. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve had some bad games. You deal with it and you go on.Ã¢â‚¬Â