Johnson catches no breaks from ex-team
Ernest Hooper, The St.Petersburg Times, published 25 September 2000

Keyshawn is on the receiving end of little more than the embarrassment of losing. The question entering the game was how much did the Jets miss Keyshawn Johnson. The question afterward was how many times did Shaun King miss Keyshawn Johnson.

For more than five months, the Bucs receiver has had a chance to imagine how a game against his old team would play out after he came to Tampa Bay in exchange for two first-round picks. Bitter about his perceived lack of respect from Jets coach Al Groh and annoyed by the media's ongoing comparisons between him and Wayne Chrebet, Johnson surely conjured up a better outcome than this.

Not only did New York win with a last-minute touchdown to Chrebet, but Johnson had one reception for 1 yard. And that came on a shovel pass behind the line of scrimmage. Conservative estimates had King throwing Johnson's way only four times. None of the passes even came close to connecting, and one was intercepted by Victor Green. "I can't explain it. How can I explain it?" Johnson said. "That was the plays we called. We ran the ball, we didn't throw the ball all that well," he said. "I think the rain took us out of our passing game a little bit."

King said the Jets were focusing their coverages on Johnson, but the quarterback said the Bucs' timing was off. New York safety Victor Green concurred. "They didn't throw him the ball," Green said. "We really didn't do that much. We were doubling him up and putting some pressure on him, but we knew that if we made some of those other guys step up, they would have a hard time beating us."

Seconds after Chrebet caught the winning touchdown pass, Johnson had a look that said much more than his post-game comments. He had a mixed look of disbelief, anger and shock. Even if he didn't make a big contribution, Johnson probably thought the Bucs' defense would hold on. "Damn, they let somebody get open. I didn't even know who caught it," Johnson said.

Neither King nor Johnson would concede that the media hype leading to the game was a factor. Johnson said it only helped people in New York sell tabloids, and he vowed the Bucs would bounce back. "If we're going to be the team that everybody thinks we're going to be, we're going to have to get used to that," King said. "This team is going to have some big games. We're not blaming it on anything. You have to tip your hat to the Jets."