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In Jarret Johnson’s nine years in the NFL, he’s never won an award.
That finally came to an end Tuesday, as the outside linebacker was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week after yet another gritty performance in the Ravens’ dominant 34-17 win over the New York Jets on Sunday Night Football.
Johnson returned a fumble 26 yards for a touchdown, had two quarterback hits and three tackles (including one for a minus three yards).
But what the Ravens’ Iron Man, who has played in 117 consecutive games, does for the Ravens’ defense doesn’t always show up in the box score, or get recognized.
Even after scoring the touchdown, Johnson deflected the praise.
“I just saw the ball bounce in front of me,” Johnson said. “I just grabbed it and took off running. Haloti [Ngata] made a huge play, and, you know, I got to reap the rewards of what Haloti did.”
Johnson caught some flack about the lack of celebration on the Ravens’ sideline, which simply speaks to his personality.
“I’m not going to dance, regardless,” Johnson said. “I have no moves.”
What Johnson does for the Ravens’ defense isn’t lost on those who watch him play every week or those who have coached him. Before Sunday’s game, former Ravens defensive coordinator turned New York Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan raved about “Double-J.”
“I’ll tell you a guy that’s underrated is Jarret Johnson,” Ryan said. “I mean he’s had that label forever. We used to laugh about it. He’s always a ‘hard-working, blue-collar guy.’ Well, that’s what he is. He’s tougher than heck, and he’s a lot more talented than people give him credit for. He’s playing great.”
The award also speaks to the overall dominance of Baltimore’s defense this season. It’s the third time in four weeks that a Raven has been named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week.
Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs won it for his Week 1 performance against the Pittsburgh Steelers and inside linebacker Ray Lewis won it last week for his showing against the St. Louis Rams. That means three of the Ravens’ starting four linebackers have won the award.
Jameel McClain, the only linebacker who hasn’t taken home the hardware, also returned a fumble for a touchdown against the New York Jets.
“I mean, we’ve had a lot of big games here, especially in the last 10 or 12 years. But, that was as good a defensive performance as I’ve been a part of,” Johnson said.
“After watching the film and seeing it, and seeing the things that were going on … there were some huge individual efforts – big plays all over the place, extremely physical. It was an excellent defensive performance.”