Steelers’ Diontae Johnson Puts Mike Tomlin on Notice: ‘Something Was Different’

Diontae Johnson

Getty Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson said the team took the Arizona Cardinals lightly during Week 13.

There’s being honest with the media, and then there’s being too honest with reporters. Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson was probably in the latter category on December 5.

With a debate raging about whether the Steelers overlooked the previously 2-10 Arizona Cardinals in their 24-10 home loss in Week 13, reporters have asked just about every Steelers player questions about the team’s preparation prior to the game.

Johnson supported the idea that Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin didn’t have the team ready to play.

“I felt like that the whole week,” Johnson told reporters, via 93.7 The Fan, on December 5. “Once we got out there, I just felt like something was different. We weren’t at our best. I felt like we just took them lightly [more] than we should have.

“We can’t come into this Thursday with the same mindset. We’re going to be fine. We’ll move past it.”

Johnson didn’t mention Tomlin’s specific preparation or place any blame on the head coach. However, there’s little doubt that the star receiver arguing the team wasn’t ready for the Cardinals will reflect poorly on the head coach.

Diontae Johnson Adds to ‘Steelers Weren’t Prepared’ Narrative

Tomlin has insisted multiple times in front of the media since December 3 that his team took the Cardinals seriously. Team leaders, linebacker T.J. Watt and quarterback Mitch Trubisky (Kenny Pickett didn’t speak to the media because of his injury), shared the same sentiment — the Steelers didn’t lose because of their preparation.

But fans and members of the media searching for a Steelers player to admit the team lacked focus prior to Week 13 got what they wanted from Johnson.

Actually, Johnson is the third Steelers player to argue the team took the Cardinals lightly.

“I guess just taking them lightly — lighter than we should have,” running back Jaylen Warren said to reporters, via Steelers Now’s Nick Farabaugh, after the Week 13 defeat.

“Yeah, there could be,” Warren said to a question about whether there was a problem with the team’s preparation. “We let the highs get too high.”

The highs Warren was apparently referring to was beating the Cincinnati Bengals 16-10 in Week 12. The Steelers posted more than 400 yards of offense in the game for the first time since 2020.

Safety Minkah Fitzpatrick also argued the Steelers weren’t ready for the Cardinals.

“I don’t understand why games [unfold] like this. We should be winning by a lot of points, playing great defense,” Fitzpatrick told the media, via Steelers reporter Amanda Godsey. “When we don’t play our best ball, it’s like this. These are NFL teams. They get paid, too. So they’re gonna take advantage of us when we don’t play our best ball.”

Johnson Explains TD Celebration

Tomlin has received a lot of criticism from Pittsburgh media this week. Johnson’s comments will do nothing but fuel it.

But the wide receiver isn’t free of criticism. For the third week in a row, Steelers fans attacked Johnson online — this time it was for celebrating a touchdown despite the team losing by two touchdowns with under five minutes left in the fourth quarter.

Johnson pushed back on December 4, explaining why he still celebrated despite the fact his touchdown was largely meaningless.

“I’m just playing to the whistle. I am just playing. Just because we’re down, I’m not just going to give up,” Johnson said, via Pittsburgh Sports Now’s Brian Batko. “I am just trying to show my efforts out there and play until the end of the game. You just got to keep on trying to find something. That’s all we can do.”

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