Somebody's fired up about 2012. A little too fired up.
|Stevie Johnson's excitement over the start of 2012 didn't fly with game officials or his coach Sunday. (Elise Amendola/Associated Press)|
Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson was flagged for a 15-yard excessive-celebration penalty after issuing a close-to-the-heart holiday message to the Patriots and their Gillette Stadium faithful during Sunday's regular-season finale.
After Johnson hauled in an 18-yard touchdown pass, giving Buffalo a 13-point lead with just over 5 minutes left in first quarter, the fourth-year pro lifted his jersey to reveal an undershirt that read: "Happy New Year!!"
Not so much for Johnson, who was benched by Chan Gailey for the stunt after the Bills coach warned him and the team against excessive celebrations earlier in the season.
"It puts me in a bind, because I made the statement," Gailey told reporters after the game, in which the Bills blew a 21-point lead and lost, 49-21. "If I say it, I'm going to do it. I could not argue the gray area of that. So, yeah, I'm disappointed. It hurts the team, and I have to do what I have to do. ...
"I've said this 100 times: He's not a bad guy. He's a good guy ... but he uses bad judgment."
Johnson didn't object to the benching, although he said he didn't know his celebration would draw a penalty.
"The coach told me I was out of the game. I have to respect his decision," Johnson said, according to The Associated Press. "I can't complain about it or whine or pout. He made his decision, and I am going with it. ... I have to take that, and I will."
Johnson, who became the first Bills receiver with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, can become a free agent and has said he wants to stay in Buffalo, but this might not help his cause.
"To end the season like this, it hurts," Johnson said, according to The AP, "and it was something today that I feel I made a mistake for my teammates."
But Johnson isn't a stranger to this brand of I-love-attention antics. Earlier in the season, he fired below the belt -- and drew a $10,000 fine -- with a Plaxico Burress-themed touchdown celebration against New York, in which he riffed on the Jets receiver shooting himself in the leg when he was a member of the Giants. Last season, Johnson was docked $5,000 for his "Why So Serious?" T-shirt, which he shared with the world during a three-touchdown game against the Bengals.
The Joker might be smiling, but the Bills are not.