KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Buffalo hasn’t been kind to the Chiefs, who have lost six straight road games, including two playoff games, at Orchard Park, N.Y., against the Bills since 1991.
Meanwhile, Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson also has a streak against the Chiefs. Since 2010, Johnson has a touchdown in three straight games against Kansas City.
Johnson’s annual trip to the end zone against the Chiefs isn’t by design, as even he was surprised when asked about it during his Wednesday media conference call.
“I didn’t even notice it was anything like that,” Johnson said. “I just go out there and try to make plays. That’s what every receiver in our room is trying to do, just make plays and get in the end zone, find ways to score so we can get a ‘W.’”
The sixth-year pro, whose 33 catches for 387 yards and three touchdowns leads all Buffalo receivers, adds the opponent isn’t part of the equation to explain his success in crossing the goal line.
“I can’t say it’s anything that the Kansas City Chiefs defense is doing,” Johnson said. “It’s just another Sunday, another day for competition and trying to win.”
Regardless of his potential secret, Johnson continues to produce even with Buffalo’s quarterback carousel.
He remains a player the Chiefs defense must account for on every snap, a challenge because Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson said the Bills’ top pass catcher is crafty and knows how to get open.
“You always have to know where No. 13 is at all times because he can do all the routes – crossing routes, go routes – he’s a guy who can run really good routes,” the Chiefs linebacker said. “As a defense, you got to have a scheme for him, so hopefully we can slow him down, which has been hard to do the last couple of years.”
Chiefs safety Quintin Demps agreed, while offering compliments.
“He’s a young Chad Johnson in his prime,” Demps said. “He’s very unorthodox at times with his releases, but he’s also capable of going 80, going the distance, so he’s very explosive. I think he’s a good overall receiver.”
Demps said the key to defending a receiver like Johnson is relying on technique and not biting on moves off the line of scrimmage.
“You have to have good eyes because he’ll make you think he’s running something he’s really not,” Demps said. “You have to make sure you’re focused on his hips and those types of things.”
“He’s a playmaker,” Chiefs cornerback Sean Smith said. “He’s a guy that is good at creating separation and just making plays. There’s not a lot of room for error. Even when he has tight coverage on him, he always seems to make plays. That’s what stands out about him.”
Still, the Chiefs could have an edge in this round against Johnson.
Along with defensive coordinator Bob Sutton’s familiarity with Johnson from Sutton’s time with the New York Jets, Smith also faced Johnson twice a year while with the Miami Dolphins.
Since 2010, Miami’s secondary held its own with Smith often providing coverage on Johnson.
During that six-game span, the Dolphins limited Johnson to 26 catches for 330 yards and a single touchdown, which came in Week 15 of the 2010 season.
Smith said a lot of his past success against Johnson is attributed to defensive scheme, adding most of credit should go to Miami’s front seven and the ability to get pressure on the quarterback.
Still, Smith knows regardless of pressure, the Bills wide receiver is still dangerous.
“He’s definitely got me a couple of times and I’ve had my share of good plays,” Smith said. “You go out there, compete and have great teammates surround you on defense. That helps you out.”
So will Johnson extend his touchdown streak against the Chiefs?
Smith said he’s not too concerned because this year’s Chiefs team isn’t the same from recent seasons.
“The past three years, that’s in the past,” Smith said. “This year our defense is playing great football right now. We have guys in the back that can definitely cover and hold it down for themselves. We have competitors now. We’re playing good football and we’re going to try and keep this thing going.”