It wasn't all roses and sunshine during the Pittsburgh Steelers' win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. While the game included a litany of positive plays for the black and gold, one negative play involving Diontae Johnson has received a significant amount of attention.
The play occurred late in the first quarter with the Steelers in position to take the lead as Johnson failed to give much of an effort before or after Jaylen Warren's fumble that ended the drive for Pittsburgh. Johnson said afterward that he didn't see Warren's fumble, but that response didn't justify his lack of effort during the play's totality.
"We've got to take care of the ball," Tomlin said when asked about the fumble and Johnson's reaction to it during his weekly press conference. "It is our desire. It's how we construct victory, so Jaylen's got to do a better job there. Diontae can't let the emotions of the previous down affect his next down, but I'll give him an opportunity to address that with you guys. I'll give him an opportunity to address that with his teammates. I'm not going to add any additional color.
"I think plays like that are best described and outlined by those involved and less so by guys like me. I keep my attention on challenging things, things that await us this week. ... It's something that he needs to answer for, and so I'll give him an opportunity to do that. His teammates will give him an opportunity to do that, and I won't provide any color until he does."
Instead of benching him, it appears that Tomlin is making Johnson take public accountability for what transpired on that play, something that Johnson did not do Sunday in Cincinnati. Johnson will likely address the situation with his teammates and the media when the players return to Pittsburgh's facility on Wednesday to begin preparations for Sunday's game against the Cardinals.
Going back to Tomlin's comments, Johnson's frustration appeared to stem from his apparent touchdown catch on the previous play being ruled as an incompletion. Johnson had appeared to maintain possession in bounds before losing control of the ball as he was falling to the ground. The Steelers elected not to challenge the play.
This marks the second straight week where Johnson has made news for undesirable reasons. He reportedly got into Minkah Fitzpatrick following the team's Week 11 loss to the Browns after Johnson was allegedly shouting at members of the coaching staff. Johnson said that he and Fitzpatrick have since reconciled.with teammate
Johnson did make one notable play that contributed to Pittsburgh's win in Cincinnati; his 39-yard catch set up the game's first points on a Chris Boswell field goal. It was one of Pittsburgh's six plays of at least 20 yards as the Steelers eclipsed over 400 yards of offense for the first time since the 2020 season.