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September 10, 2013

Bills' Johnson takes blame for dropped pass

Tonawanda News — ORCHARD PARK — Stevie Johnson accepted the blame Monday after the Buffalo Bills receiver's hands failed to back up his big boasts.

A week after claiming New England had no one capable of defending him, Johnson wound up dropping the ball himself in a season-opening 23-21 loss to the Patriots on Sunday.

"When you don't win a game, at the end of the day, that's when you get negative attention," Johnson said. "And I deserve it."

The ever-colorful player became the focus of criticism midway through the fourth quarter with Buffalo clinging to a 21-20 lead. Facing third-and-1 at the Bills 49, Johnson was wide open in the left flat when EJ Manuel's pass bounced off his fingers to end the drive.

The Bills punted, then went three-and-out on their next possession to give Tom Brady enough time to orchestrate a 49-yard drive to set up Stephen Gostkowski's 35-yard field goal with 5 seconds remaining.

Johnson took the loss personally, in part because it was a familiar outcome against an AFC East nemesis that beat Buffalo for the 19th time in 20 meetings.

"The reaction is as expected. Everybody is placing the blame on me," said Johnson, who avoided speaking to reporters following the game. "It's OK. I felt like I put myself in that position."

Johnson did finish with three catches for 39 yards, including a third-quarter touchdown that put Buffalo ahead 21-17. And, in his defense, there was plenty of blame to go around for a Bills team that squandered numerous opportunities.

The Bills' new-look hurry-up offense was mostly stuck in neutral. They managed just 15 first downs, five coming on an 11-play, 80-yard drive that ended on Johnson's touchdown. Buffalo had difficulty on third down, converting just 4 of 13 opportunities.

And penalties proved costly. The Bills were flagged 13 times, with 10 accepted by the Patriots for 75 yards.

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