Isaiah Johnson made a fantastic individual play to secure the Raiders' 31-26 win over the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday, but he had a little help. After the second-year cornerback broke up not one, but two passes in the corner of the end zone in the final seconds of the Raiders' 31-26 win over the Los Angeles Chargers, Johnson provided a little context behind his motivation that day.
"I found out that one of my close, close teammates [Ka’Darian Smith] that was like a little brother to me had passed away in Houston," Johnson told reporters after the win. "I played cornerback with him at [University of Houston]. He had lost his life in Houston this past Wednesday and I didn’t tell a whole bunch of people about it because I knew we still had to prepare and win the game, and I didn’t want to be a distraction.
"I feel like that play, that game -- not to make it about myself whatsoever -- but I feel like that moment was for him, just because I know that he would be with me in a situation like that."
Entering Sunday's game, Johnson had played only 44 career defensive snaps and had one career pass defensed. He played 50 defensive snaps against the Chargers, finishing the game with six combined tackles and those two crucial break-ups in the final seconds. Following the victory, some of his teammates wanted to make sure he got the credit he deserved.
"He had a tough week, and as a team, we just kind of wrapped our arms around him," Raiders quarterback Derek Carr said of Johnson. "The week that he went through, personally, and then to be the guy to knock the ball out at the end and win the game for us ... please just give him a lot of credit for what he went through this week and what he was able to do."
Johnson's performance was deserving of praise in itself, but when you consider the context it came in, it becomes all the more impressive.