It’s been an up and down season for Eagles’ veteran Lane Johnson, who battled his way back from a mental health issue that kept him away from the team for three games, but got right back to work anchoring the offensive line when he was able to return. The offensive tackle was an obvious snub from the Pro Bowl rosters announced last week, but the big guy got his highlight reel moment on Sunday against the Giants, scoring his first career NFL touchdown.
Eagles’ head coach Nick Sirianni and many of his teammates spoke to reporters after the game and highlighted why it was such a special moment for a guy who works tirelessly for his team and doesn’t often get the accolades he deserves.
Jalen Hurts acknowledged that Johnson has been motivated all week by not making the Pro Bowl and the QB was happy that he got a touchdown.
“We exchanged jerseys after the game, actually, because I’ve never thrown a touchdown to an offensive tackle. But, he’s a freak athlete. Never thrown a touchdown to an offensive tackle and I gave him my jersey — signed it, gave it to him. He gives me his jersey and leaves it in my locker, and he wrote on there, he said, ‘When I caught that ball, I didn’t know what to think. All I could think was, what y’all know about them Texas boys.’
It’s just so much fun to see him out there making plays like that, and obviously playing at such a high level, like he has all year at tackle. I know he may not be in the Pro Bowl, but I know he better be first-team All Pro, the player he is.”
Jordan Mailata talked a lot about how Lane Johnson, along with Jason Peters, has been like a big brother to him since he arrived in Philly, and he’s been a huge influence on him and his development at the tackle position. Mailata emphasized that as cool a big guy touchdowns are, it’s even better when it’s a guy like Johnson.
“It’s Lane. He’s an offensive lineman — big man touchdowns, you know, everyone loves to see that. But, when you actually know the guy, and you play with the guy, and you know how much he gives himself to the team, you love that for him.”
The respect for Johnson goes beyond what he does for his teammates and in the locker room, with running back Boston Scott talking about how it great it was to see the veteran smiling after everything he’s been through this season.
“Just him battling through things off the field, too, I have a tremendous amount of respect for that dude. And, just being able to see him with a smile on his face after all the work that he’s put in — he’s been an elite, one of the best to do it ever, and it’s always fun to see big guys get into the endzone and get an opportunity. It’s cool.”
Hurts had similar feelings about the touchdown meaning more with what Johnson has been through, and called it a sign a strength and also a sign that Johnson has the support of his teammates through thick and thin.
“I think it’s a testimony of perseverance and obviously, of being strong. Lane knows that his teammates have his back. He knows I have his back. And, going through the things that he went through earlier in the season, obviously being able to come back and be with us, and be a big part of our football team and our offense, I’m happy for him. But, I’m happy that he’s good. I’m happy that he got into the endzone today.”
As for how the play to came life, Nick Sirianni explained that the call was for “East Texas” because that’s where Johnson is from, and it’s something they’ve had in their arsenal this season but not something that’s been part of the game plan every week. It hasn’t been included the past few weeks though, so while they have had some reps of it in practice, the head coach credited the coaches for installing it and the players for making it work.
“We had a lot of confidence in the play because of the way we practiced this week, and just confidence in Lane. I mean, Lane’s a phenomenal football player. I don’t agree that he’s not in the Pro Bowl, I think that you have a chance to have a guy that’s going to be a first or second team All-Pro and not in the Pro Bowl. So, it was great to be able to get him a touchdown. He just deserves so much more credit than he’s getting.
This guy is just — I’ve never been in around an offensive tackle that is as talented as this guy is. It’s like, he could play tight end if you want him too. You should see him throw the football. This guy is so immensely talented, I just got so much respect for him. It’s always great when you can reward guys that don’t get into the endzone with a touchdown like that.
I think it was his first touchdown since high school — I’m sure he scored a lot of them in high school because the guy, he’s just a stud. And just so happy that he’s anchoring our offensive line and looking forward to the accolades he’s going to get because he deserves them.”
DeVonta Smith said Johnson’s touchdown was “big” and that the drive prior he was calling for the ball. Sirianni pointed out — with a big smile on his face — that Johnson wasn’t actually an eligible receiver until that play, so he they couldn’t have thrown him the ball on the previous drive.
Alex Singleton called the touchdown, “sick,” with a big smile, and Mailata didn’t mince words with his initial reaction — although he does wish they would’ve spent more time figuring out a celebration for it.
“I’m not going to swear ... but it was f***ing awesome. It was awesome, man. I’m so happy he got a touchdown. For Lane, a guy of his caliber, he deserves it.”
Mailata was also asked if Johnson is the type of guy to lobby for an opportunity to get into the endzone, but he scoffed at the idea.
“No, he’s not that kind of guy. Lane just puts his head down and works. He’s one of the hardest workers in the room. Gifted athletically, he’s insane, so he just puts his head down, he works hard. We watch him, he inspires us, and then we figure out these trick plays and we’re like, ‘What about me?’”
Rodney McLeod was excited to watch the touchdown on the sideline, and while he was disappointed they didn’t get to see Johnson’s dance moves, he thought the whole thing was pretty cool.
“Man, impressive hands. Jalen [Hurts] you’ve got to take some zip off the ball, man (laughing), it’s a lineman. But, he put his hands up there, he caught it. I was hype for him, man, very excited to see him score his first touchdown. Thought he was going to show us some of his dance moves, but I think he just jumped in the crowd. But, it was pretty cool to see.”
Hurts would later say that he didn’t need to take anything off the throw because the two had worked out a lot in the offseason, so he called Johnson, “equipped and well-prepared,” for the heat.