Mike Tomlin: Steelers WR Diontae Johnson 'responded appropriately' to first-half benching

Last week, Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin threatened to bench receivers who continued to drop passes.

Flash forward to Sunday night's game against the Buffalo Bills, when top wideout Diontae Johnson flubbed two early passes to kill drives. The missed plays gave Johnson 12 drops on the season, most in the NFL.

Tomlin had seen enough, benching Johnson for the rest of the first half of the eventual 26-15 loss to the Bills.

"I thought he responded appropriately," Tomlin said, via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "He didn't pout. He waited for his next opportunity and, when his next opportunity came, he was productive."

Johnson returned to catch three second-half passes for 40 yards. His 28 snaps were his fewest in a game this season.

Johnson has generated fewer than 47 receiving yards in two of the past three weeks as the Steelers offense has struggled. Pittsburgh hasn't scored more than 20 points in the three games since the calendar turned to Dec. Johnson represents the Steelers' most dynamic weapon, without whom the offense is stuck in the mud.

Despite the benching, Tomlin doesn't appear set to curtail Johnson's play moving forward.

"We will move forward," Tomlin said.

On Monday night, the Steelers face the woeful Cincinnati Bengals. If Ben Roethlisberger, Johnson, et al. remain in StrugglesVille against a Cincy defense that is among the worst in the league and just got beat up by Andy Dalton, then panic is likely to hit Pittsburgh.

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