Cleveland Browns running back Duke Johnson committed a costly turnover in the fourth quarter of his team’s loss to the Washington Redskins, but was it actually a turnover?
Johnson fumbled after picking up a first down on 2nd-and-2 from the 50-yard line. While it was tough to tell who jumped on the ball first under the pile, Johnson emerged rather quickly and raised the ball over his head. Why, then, was possession awarded to Washington?
“I thought I recovered it,” Johnson said, via Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. “But at the end of the day, I can’t fumble.”
Turnovers are automatically reviewed, but an NFL spokesman said there was nothing definitive to overturn the ruling line judge Sarah Thomas made on the field. Here’s another angle:
The Browns turned the ball over on three consecutive possessions in the second half and blew a 20-17 lead. Because of that, they’re not blaming the loss on a questionable call.
“Long story short, I shouldn’t put the refs in position to make that call anyway,” Johnson added. “I should’ve had the ball. I should’ve held onto it and that would’ve been that. We wouldn’t have been sitting here now.”
Thomas said she whistled the play dead when she saw a Redskins defender on the ground with the ball. Even if Johnson was able to pry the ball away after a Washington recovery, it would still be Redskins ball. It’s unclear if that is what happened, but that’s what Thomas saw. There was no clear evidence to overturn her ruling.
The Browns have had some serious problems with running backs in recent seasons. Johnson, a third-round draft pick in his second NFL season, has been a disappointment thus far.
The Cleveland Browns traded running back Terrance West to the Tennessee Titans on Sunday for a conditional draft pick, and that could be a positive sign for the future of Duke Johnson Jr.
Johnson has been recovering from a concussion and remained in the NFL’s concussion protocol as of Friday, but the Browns must be confident he is making progress. The former Miami star rushed for 1,652 yards last season and averaged a whopping 6.8 yards per carry for the Hurricanes. Many believe he was a value pick in the third round.
It is unclear if Johnson will be ready to play in Week 1 against the New York Jets, but Cleveland’s decision to trade West has to be seen as a positive. The Browns still have Isaiah Crowell, but he was incredibly frustrating last season and had issues with ball security.
Assuming Johnson can get healthy, he is the clear-cut favorite to earn the feature back role in Cleveland. That has become even clearer now with West out of the way.
Photo: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Miami’s Duke Johnson is one of the best running backs in college football and he showed it against Virginia Tech on Thursday. The sophomore had 210 yards, fourth most in school history, before the third quarter ended.
There wasn’t much the Hokies could do as Johnson ran around and through them on the way to his big night. If you’re looking for a play to sum up Virginia Tech’s evening in terms of trying to stop Johnson, the above run is probably it.
Late in third quarter, Johnson took off on a 29-yard run down to the Virginia Tech eight yard line. Along the way, he delivered a vicious stiffarm to Virginia Tech cornerback Kendall Fuller that rendered him essentially useless.
If you’re going to clear out a defender, that’s how you do it. That would make Earl Campbell proud.
Miami Hurricanes star running back Duke Johnson left Saturday’s 42-14 loss to Florida State with a leg injury after being stuffed on a fourth down play in the third quarter. The word is that he has a broken ankle and will be out for the season.
Miami Herald Hurricanes reporter Susan Miller Degnan first reported the news and says Johnson is scheduled to have surgery next week. Johnson had a cast on his right leg after the game and was on crutches:
Johnson was injured after being stopped on a 4th-and-2 from the FSU 26 late in the third quarter. His right leg was planted underneath him as he got tackled. You can see how awkward the positioning was in the photo below: