Taron Johnson’s ‘franchise altering play’ leads Bills to AFC title game

Brad Gelber
·3 min read

The Buffalo Bills are one win away from the Super Bowl… no, that is not a typo.

After beating the Baltimore Ravens, 17-3, on Saturday in Orchard Park, the Bills advanced to the AFC Championship game. They’ll take on the winner of the Chiefs vs. Browns divisional round game on Sunday.

While Buffalo’s offense has carried the team for most of the season, the defense, and cornerback Taron Johnson in particular, came up huge.

After the Bills had scored a touchdown coming out of halftime to take the 10-3 lead, Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson were driving down the field, looking to even things up, when Johnson made the biggest play of the Bills season.

Johnson intercepted Jackson and took the ball 101-yards to score a TD for the Bills:

Buffalo never looked back.

Johnson was asked if he thought about taking a knee in the end zone after intercepting the ball.

“That’s exactly what I was thinking,” Johnson said via Zoom. “I caught the ball and kinda looked down, but then I looked up and just seen a bunch of green grass to the right side. So I figured if I could race over there… and if I got leading blockers, I feel like I could take it.”

Take it he did, all the way to the end zone.

Johnson’s teammates were quick to compliment him after the win. It was, perhaps, the biggest play off the season after all.

“I tell Taron he’s the best nickel in the league & I believe that in my heart,” Safety Jordan Poyer said. “He tackles well, he covers well… that play changed the game… it gives us momentum and confidence… we’re gonna keep fighting for every grain of grass.”

While Johnson’s teammates on defense were directly involved in the play, the guys on offense were just trying to figure out exactly what was happening.

“Honestly when the play happened I didn’t know what was going on,” Left tackle Dion Dawkins told the media after the game. “All we saw was the last name Johnson running down the field. I could barely see and I was like TJ just scored. It was a game changer, a momentum changer.”

Dawkins wasn’t done with his praise.

“It’s a special team. There’s so many guys here that are due for greatness. Taron’s been making plays all year and he just continues to come up and I’m happy for whatever is next for him,” he added.

While Johnson himself said the magnitude of the moment somewhat struck him in the middle of the play, quarterback Josh Allen perhaps summed up just how much the play meant after the game.

“Just an unbelievable play… just one of those plays that’ll be remember for a really long time. A franchise altering play,” Allen said.

Good teams and good players find a way to make big plays in big moments. That is exactly what Taron Johnson did during that interception.

Whether it’s the Chiefs, or the Browns next week, the Bills will need more big plays like that if they hope to advance and play for the Lombardi Trophy in the Super Bowl.

Related

National media reactions to Bills earning trip to AFC Championship

Instant analysis: Bills defense stands tall in win vs. Ravens

5 takeaways from the Bills' 17-3 win over the Ravens

WATCH: 101-yard pick-six for Bills' Taron Johnson on Lamar Jackson