Tennessee Titans WR Andre Johnson still comes through in clutch

By Dana Gauruder, The Sports Xchange  |  Sept. 19, 2016 at 12:55 AM
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DETROIT -- Andre Johnson knows he's in the twilight of his career. On Sunday, he proved he could still make a game-winning play, as he often did in his prime.

The veteran wide receiver caught only one pass for the Tennessee Titans but it made all the difference. He jumped up in the end zone and snared a fourth-and-4 throw from Marcus Mariota with 1:13 remaining, giving the Titans a 16-15 win over the Detroit Lions.

"I went up and made a play," Johnson said of the 9-yard reception. "I've played this game for a while and (been involved) in a lot of pass plays where I've been in traffic and had to make plays. I knew there was going to be some contact and I just went up and tried to do the best I could."

Tennessee coach Mike Mularkey wasn't surprised Johnson came through at the biggest moment.

"Andre made a great play but that's why he's going to be in the Hall of Fame," he said. "That's what he's here for."

Johnson was a non-factor until the game-deciding drive. He made an 8-yard reception that would have put the Titans at Detroit's 1-yard line, but it was wiped out by a penalty. The Lions didn't get a reprieve on his next catch.

"I saw that in practice a lot," Mularkey said. "A contested throw and saw him come down with a catch like that."

The seven-time Pro Bowler set nearly every Houston Texans' receiving record from 2003-14.

He signed a free agent deal with Indianapolis in March 2015 but had only one unproductive season with the Colts before they let him go. Johnson made just 41 receptions last season, a career-low except for 2011 when he only played seven games due to injury.

Johnson, who signed a two-year contract with the Titans in late July, now finds himself in a reserve role behind Rishard Matthews and rookie Tajae Sharpe.

"That's my role now," he said. "It's different for me but at the same time, you never know when your number is going to get called. I didn't get many plays in the game but at a crucial time in the game, my number was called and that's what you look for."

When Mariota sent the ball his way, Johnson responded with his 69th career touchdown reception. The 35-year-old receiver proved he still has something left in his tank.

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