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Jags 20th: Johnson Has His Day


It's an understatement to say he took advantage of that opportunity.

Johnson, selected by the Jaguars in the fourth round of the 1995 NFL Draft, got his start in Week 1 of the 1997 season. Johnson has played sparingly in two seasons with the team but got his chance with starter Mark Brunell out with a knee injury.

The Jaguars had turned in a remarkable playoff run the season before, a run that had been keyed by two come-from-behind victories over the Ravens. But much of that run was because of the rapid development and playmaking ability of Brunell, while Johnson had thrown just seven regular-season passes in his first two seasons.

As it turned out, Johnson was more than ready. He completed 20 of 24 passes for 294 yards, and despite spraining his ankle twice – and even being replaced for a short time with third-team quarterback Steve Matthews – his 28-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jimmy Smith in the fourth quarter gave the Jaguars their final margin of victory.

Johnson, who had given the Jaguars a 7-0 lead with a 25-yard scramble, missed the following week's victory over the New York Giants, and Brunell's return after a Week 3 bye prevented Johnson from any more significant action that season.

The following off-season, the Jaguars traded Johnson to the Buffalo Bills in exchange for the No. 9 overall selection in the 1998 NFL Draft. The Jaguars used that selection on running back Fred Taylor.

The rest is Jaguars history.

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