Richard Sherman rarely lines up anywhere other than the left side of the Seattle Seahawks’ defense. But late in the 2012 season, he made an exception against the Buffalo Bills.
And it did not work out very well for the player who recently became the highest-paid cornerback in the league.
Newly acquired 49ers wide receiver Stevie Johnson, then with the Bills, was targeted 12 times in a 2012 Week 15 game against the Seahawks. He caught eight passes for 115 yards and a touchdown.
That was the only time Johnson has played against Sherman and the Seahawks defense since his rookie season of 2008. Now, he joins what has turned into the best rivalry in the NFL. Whether he'll be matched in single coverage against the 49ers' main nemesis remains to be seen.
“It’s going to be a good match,” Johnson said Wednesday on Yahoo SportsTalk Live. “It’s always going to be a good match even before I was here. I don’t want to single out the Seattle Seahawks. Of course, they’re the No. 1 team right now and everybody is eyeing them.
“But we got teams all across the league and in this division with the Cardinals and the Rams being a special group in the future. So we can’t just focus on one team. We got to worry about the entire league.”
When Johnson was matched against Sherman, he caught four of seven passes for 69 yards, including a 20-yard touchdown. On that play, Johnson was lined up in the left slot, forcing Sherman to vacate his preferred spot on the other side.
Johnson ran a post-corner route, creating about 7 yards of separation and an easy touchdown throw from then-Buffalo quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Johnson easily could have had another big play against Sherman. Again lined up on the left side, Johnson ran a double-move against Sherman. Johnson had a step on Sherman but Fitzpatrick overthrew him approximately 45 yards down the field.
Here’s what former NFL safety John Lynch, working the game as a TV analyst, had to say during the FOX broadcast after the deep incomplete pass:
“The Seattle Seahawks play with eight men in the box more than any team in this league. And they basically dare you to throw the football deep. Well, that’s not a strength of the Buffalo Bills. Stevie Johnson (is) more of a possession receiver. (He) tries to execute a double-move, but then just doesn’t have the all-out speed to go get that football.”