“I’m Still High Right Now.”November 11th, 2012
Bucs defensive back Leonard Johnson went from the depths of depression to the heights of exaltation in a span of not quite 60 minutes of football today.
Early in the game, Johnson went to tackle Chargers receiver Danario Alexander near midfield on a Philip Rivers pass (one of many to come). Johnson came up and wrapped up Alexander and threw him to the ground.
Problem was, Johnson didn’t actually tackle Alexander ,who sort of did a tumble without hitting the ground, jumped up and raced for the end zone.
Fast forward to late in the game with the Chargers seemingly on another scoring drive when Rivers was flushed out of the pocket and looked to be going out of bounds.
“I was running up to cover him,” Johnson said.
Instead of throwing the ball away or running out of bounds, Rivers, inexplicably, threw the ball and hit Johnson right in the numbers.
“I think I hesitated at first because I was shocked,” Johnson said of his pick.
But he wasn’t done. With only one Chargers player to beat, Johnson raced unabated to the end zone, styling Deion Sanders-style the last 20 yards, capping an 83-yard pick-six for what proved to be the winning score in a 34-24 Bucs win.
Johnson had “re-routed” his receiver when Rivers was flushed then defended Rivers in case he tried to gain yardage when Rivers decided, for reasons unknown, to channel his inner Trent Dilfer and throw a terrible, terrible, terrible pass.
“I grabbed ahold of it and I think I hesitated for a second because I was so shocked,” Johnson said. “This is big,” he said to himself as he styled across the goal line. “It was always a play I wanted to make in college. It was my first pick-six, ever. I was excited, really excited.
“It was everything you think of, it was big, even bigger because it put the team in a position to win. It wasn’t just me that made that play. If the quarterback doesn’t get out of the pocket due to pressure, who knows how that game would have turned out?”
The last time Johnson scored a touchdown was when he was quarterback at Largo High School. An offensive touchdown.
Johnson’s head was still swirling about the play after the game. He said he couldn’t remember who he was guarding initially on the play because “I’m still high right now.”