Sports

Johnson makes big plays for struggling Bills

Stevie Johnson’s season has gone much like the one-handed catch the Buffalo Bills receiver made last weekend.

It looked marvelous: Johnson leaping over the middle to snag the ball with one hand, bring it in and control it before he landed on the turf for a 25-yard gain. Trouble is, the drive stalled and Buffalo lost the game.

“It’s a pretty cool catch,” Johnson said Wednesday. “I mean, it’s just a guy trying to make a big play. But it didn’t really lead to too much. So, it’s just a play. That’s it.”

The best receiver on a perennial loser is sick of the losing but hasn’t been pouting or pointing fingers. On the verge of becoming the first Bills receiver to produce three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, the fifth-year pro is instead thinking about the best way to produce a winning culture in Buffalo.

“I don’t think it’s from maturity,” Johnson said. “I think it’s just from me wanting to change things, me wanting to bring this team back.”

NFL penalizes Hope

Strong safety Chris Hope of the Atlanta Falcons has been fined $30,000 for his helmet-to-helmet hit on New York Giants receiver Victor Cruz.

Hope was penalized for unnecessary roughness on the third-quarter play during Atlanta’s 34-0 win on Sunday.

In other penalties announced by the NFL on Friday, 49ers safety Dashon Goldson was docked $21,000 for an illegal hit; Titans defensive end Antonio Smith and Jets defensive end Quinton Coples were fined $15,750 each for helmet-to-helmet hits; and Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin and Ravens cornerback Cary Williams were fined $15,750 each for unnecessary roughness.

Bills reach lease deal

The Buffalo Bills reached an agreement with Erie County and the state on a lease deal for Ralph Wilson Stadium that will keep the NFL franchise in western New York, a state official familiar with the negotiations said.

Quick kicks

San Francisco (10-3-1) All-Pro DT Justin Smith’s availability is in question after he missed practice for the third consecutive day because of an elbow injury, placing his streak of 185 consecutive starts in jeopardy. … Washington (8-6) QB Robert Griffin III is listed as probable for Sunday’s game against Philadelphia (4-10). Griffin went through a full practice for the third straight day after missing last week’s win over Cleveland (5-9) with a sprained right knee. …

Eight-time Pro Bowl LB Brian Urlacher will miss his third straight game because of a hamstring injury when the Chicago Bears (8-6) visit the Arizona Cardinals (5-9) on Sunday. … Ahmad Bradshaw took part in practice on a limited basis, and New York Giants (8-6) coach Tom Coughlin said he was encouraged about having the running back for Sunday’s game against the Baltimore Ravens (9-5). … Jacksonville Jaguars (2-12) RB Maurice Jones-Drew will miss his ninth consecutive game because of a foot injury. … Former Pro Bowl K Nate Kaeding signed with the Miami Dolphins (6-8), who placed K Dan Carpenter on injured reserve because of a right groin injury.



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