Brian Johnson had been with the Washington Football Team for less than a week and he was already called on to deliver some late-game heroics.
With Washington trailing 15-14 to the Las Vegas Raiders in the closing seconds of the fourth quarter, Johnson, who had been plucked from the Chicago Bears' practice squad the previous Tuesday, lined up for a 48-yard attempt. And just like his previous eight kicks prior to joining the Burgundy & Gold, Johnson's ninth was sent through the uprights.
It was a wild ending to a wild game, but what's even wilder is that he was still relatively unknown to his teammates. A game-winning kick is quite the introduction.
"Hell yeah, I'm nervous," Jonathan Allen said after the game. "I've never seen him kick. I didn't even know his name. We had just brought him up … credit to him, saved our game."
While Taylor Heinicke was leading Washington down the field, Johnson was preparing for what would be his first field goal attempt for his new team. The situation was daunting to say the least; aside from the regular pressure of attempting a game-winning kick, Washington's playoff seeding was on the line. A loss meant that the team, which had fought for the past three weeks to earn the No. 7 seed, would be on the outside looking in.
Oh and by the way, the kick was going to come in front of a Raiders fanbase that is infamous for being a little more intense than average.
Johnson's solution: tune it all out.
"On the sidelines is when I kind of start to zone out the crowd," Johnson said. "And once I get out there, I only tell myself, 'Get it on your target line, because from 48 [yards], I shouldn't come up short.' So if it gets on the target line, it should be good."
With 42 seconds left, Camaron Cheeseman snapped the ball to Tress Way, who put in position for Washington's fourth kicker this season to send it flying. The ball cut sharply to the right, and for a moment, it looked like Washington was about to leave Las Vegas disappointed.
But the ball snuck past the right goal post, giving Washington a two-point lead. After the game, head coach Ron Rivera said having a new kicker attempt a game-winner isn't quite the ideal situation, but Johnson handled it well.
"We got quality yards and put him in a good position where it was pretty much right down his alley. He hit that very well."
Johnson grew up in the DMV before playing for Virginia Tech. To kick for his hometown team in a situation, he said, it was an "awesome" experience.
Johnson did more than just give Washington the win. He proved that he can perform in high pressure scenarios, and since Washington is entering a division gauntlet with five games left on the schedule, he may have to repeat the feat.
For now, Johnson's priority will be on another challenge: getting to know his teammates' names.
"There were a lot of names being thrown at me," Johnson said with a smile. "But I'll get them down next week."