Bears 22, Bills 19: Bills Week 9 Game Ball

This post is sponsored by Sprint.

I know, I know. We shouldn't be handing out game balls to players on an 0-8 football team, but no matter how steadfast I am in that belief, at least one Buffalo Bills player steps up and lays a rightful claim to one on a biweekly basis. This week, we're giving our game ball to third-year wide receiver Stevie Johnson.

I defy you to find a cooler story and a more productive player on this Bills team right now. In his first season as an NFL starting receiver, Johnson has been a revelation, quickly establishing himself as Buffalo's most consistent - and dare I say best? - receiving threat. In eight games, Johnson has hauled in 41 passes for 554 yards and six touchdowns, and has not yet had a game this season with fewer than three receptions or 31 yards.

Folks, this is a player that caught 12 passes for 112 yards in his first two pro seasons. He basically equaled that production yesterday in Toronto. He's replacing Terrell Owens, of all people, in the starting lineup. Right now, he's playing better for this Bills team than Owens did at any point in 2009.

There is absolutely nothing remarkable about Johnson as a prospect. He's not particularly big, not especially strong, and certainly isn't going to wow anyone with his straight line speed. That fact - that he's such an unremarkable prospect - is what makes his production so remarkable. Stevie Johnson is a football player. He does what hundreds of bigger, faster and stronger prospects before him could never do in the big leagues: get open and catch footballs.

As a former seventh-round pick, Johnson has proven in his third season that he has more than enough "it" factor to play in the NFL for a long time. He's having a great season, and his 11-catch, 145-yard effort yesterday in Toronto earns him our Week 9 game ball.

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