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Steelers star Diontae Johnson takes ownership for apparent lack of effort on fumble: ‘It won’t happen again’

Pittsburgh Steelers star receiver Diontae Johnson is sharing his thoughts about his apparent lack of effort during a critical play in last Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

On Wednesday, Johnson took responsibility for his actions and said that it would be a one-time thing. 

“It was really just me owning up to what I did on Sunday to the team and just let them know it won’t happen again,” Johnson said via TribLive.com. 

“How I feel and how I should go about the situation next time it occurs. I own up to it. I am not perfect. So, all I can do is keep moving forward and just play football. That’s all I’m worried about.”

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Diontae Johnson of the Pittsburgh Steelers reacts after a first down in the first quarter against the Tennessee Titans at Acrisure Stadium Nov. 2, 2023, in Pittsburgh.  (Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

The play in question happened in the first quarter of a Week 12 game when quarterback Kenny Pickett handed the ball off to Jaylin Warren. Warren fumbled the ball, and Bengals cornerback DJ Turner II recovered it. 

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NFL fans watching the Steelers-Bengals game noticed Johnson not blocking on the run and acting nonchalantly as Turner recovered the fumble.

Diontae Johnson vs Packers

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson during a game against the Green Bay Packers Nov. 12, 2023, at Acrisure Stadium in Pittsburgh. (Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

He faced accusations of not giving full effort on the play.

Shortly after the game, Johnson claimed he did not see the ball when it was on the turf. But Johnson’s latest statement appears to be an admission that he could have done more to recover the ball.

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Johnson was visibly frustrated after what seemed like a catch in the first quarter was ruled incomplete.

Diontae Johnson vs Titans

Diontae Johnson of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs the ball during a game against the Tennessee Titans at Acrisure Stadium Nov. 2, 2023, in Pittsburgh. (Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

Earlier this week, longtime Steelers coach Mike Tomlin addressed Johnson’s perceived lack of effort on the third-down play, acknowledging Johnson should not have “let the emotions of the previous down affect the next down.”

Johnson had three catches for 38 yards at halftime and finished the game with four catches for 50 yards. 

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The latest criticism comes after an ESPN report that said Johnson and a teammate were involved in a “heated argument” after a Week 11 loss to the AFC North rival Cleveland Browns. 

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Last week, Tomlin confirmed one of the most stable franchises in the NFL made an unusual in-season move to fire a coach, offensive coordinator Matt Canada.

Fox News’ Ryan Gaydos contributed to this report.

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