LANDOVER, Md. – It took six years and 363 days, but Josh Johnson finally returned to attempt his first NFL pass since 2011 on Sunday at FedEx Field.
In the third quarter of the Washington Redskins’ 40-16 loss to the New York Giants, Washington benched starting quarterback Mark Sanchez in favor of Johnson. The 32-year-old University of San Diego alum had not thrown a pass in the NFL since Dec. 11, 2011 as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and he made the most of his opportunity on Sunday.
“…I haven’t played in a long time,” Johnson said after the game. “I’ve always been interested in getting out there in a real game. I had the opportunity and I just wanted to take advantage of it.”
Johnson went 11-for-16 for 195 yards through the air and notched the longest completion of his career: a 79-yard touchdown to Josh Doctson. He also rushed for a team-high 45 yards, ran for a touchdown and threw for two two-point conversions.
Johnson epitomizes the term “journeyman quarterback.” He was drafted in the fifth round of the 2008 NFL Draft by Tampa Bay, where he played through the 2011 season. Johnson then spent 2012 with the Cleveland Browns, 2013 with the Cincinnati Bengals, and 2014 with the San Francisco 49ers. Before Sunday, his last game played in the NFL was on Dec. 22, 2013 with Cincinnati.
Between 2015 and the spring of 2018, Johnson signed with the Bengals (again), New York Jets, Indianapolis Colts (twice), Buffalo Bills, Baltimore Ravens, New York Giants, Jacksonville Jaguars, Houston Texans (twice) and Oakland Raiders.
The Redskins provided Johnson with an opportunity to return to the field by signing him on Dec. 5, after the team lost quarterbacks Alex Smith and Colt McCoy for the season, both to a broken leg. Johnson had been cut by Oakland on May 10 and after watching the first 13 weeks of the season from home, finally got the chance to take another NFL snap.
“When I got in on Wednesday, I went through the game plan and I felt pretty comfortable,” Johnson said. “A lot of stuff I was familiar with, what I’ve done with Coach [Jay] Gruden in Cincinnati and down with his brother in Tampa and Oakland.”
After his performance against New York, Johnson is scheduled start his first NFL game since 2011 when Washington travels to Jacksonville for a matchup with the Jaguars next Sunday at 1:00 p.m., according to Redskins head coach Jay Gruden. It would only be the sixth start of his NFL career.