From Invesco Field, Denver
Derrick Johnson’s answer was quick and to the point: he has no desire to come back to the Chiefs in the part-time role that he played during this 2009 season.
“I don’t want to; I want to play,” Johnson said on Sunday. “I never dreams of playing this role, but at the same time you have to make the most of what you have.’
Johnson certainly made the most of his opportunity against QB Kyle Orton and the Denver offense, and if his two interceptions and returns for touchdowns doesn’t convince the decision makers of his full-time worth to the franchise, what will?
“It’s been frustrating, going in and out and playing a different role,” Johnson said. “But I love football. I had a chance to go make some plays for my teammates.”
And they were two beauties. Both of Orton’s passes were coming at him so fast they almost knocked him over. But Johnson caught the ball, recovered his balance and raced 45 and then 60 yards for touchdowns.
With two interception returns for scores in the same game, Johnson became the 25th player to do that in the history of the league and the third member of the Chiefs. S Jim Kearney did it in 1972 against the Broncos and S Lloyd Burruss matched it with two picks for scores against San Diego during the 1986 season.
Other names on that list of 25 include people like Hall of Famer Ken Houston, Eric Allen, Ken Norton, Ronde Barber and the last player before Johnson to get it done, Arizona’s Antrel Rolle who scored twice on interceptions against Cincinnati in 2007.
“I heard that a few minutes ago and that’s great,” Johnson said of joining a select group of defenders in the end zone.
It was Johnson’s second INT return for a TD that really pushed the Chiefs over the top against the Broncos. They held a six-point lead after Ryan Succop hit a 47-yard FG early in the fourth quarter. Denver’s offense took over and that’s when Johnson stepped up.
“I was actually supposed to be blitzing on the other side, but I read the quarterback and he was looking down on his receiver really hard and I got in front of it,” Johnson said. “I don’t know how I caught the ball. It was a blur in there. It came really fast.
“I thought somebody was going to catch me, but I was all by myself.”
There were times this year when Johnson felt all by himself as he sat in the Chiefs locker room. A starter in each of the games during his four previous seasons, he was moved to a role as a nickel linebacker and Johnson wasn’t sure why. Eventually, he tried to make the best of things.
“If you love football, whenever you get a chance to get out there and play, you’ve just got to go out and seize the moment,” Johnson said. “Do I wish I would have played more? Yeah, I have a lot of confidence in myself. Sometimes you don’t have to agree. All the coaches have great intentions; it was anything about doing something bad to Derrick Johnson.
“It’s a combination of things. We disagree on some things and he (Haley) knows that. We don’t’ have any beef or anything like that. He told me when I get my chance, I need to play. That’s what I did today.”
But more than anything else what happened on Sunday wasn’t about vindication for Johnson. It was about winning.
“The most frustrating thing about this year has been the losing,” Johnson said. “Of course I want to play more, but when you lose a lot, it’s just β¦ this win feels good. Bumps and bruises don’t hurt as much.”
And the previous four months don’t hurt as much either.
“This has been going on all year, and I know how to handle it now,” Johnson said. “It’s made me a better person.”