For DMV sports fans, Brian Johnson’s game-winning field goal in the final seconds of Sunday’s contest provided another reason to be optimistic about the suddenly resurgent Washington Football Team. But for Johnson himself, the kick was even more meaningful.
“Kicking for the hometown team, kicking the game-winner for the first field goal, pretty much, it was insane,” Johnson told reporters after the game, according to NBC Sports Washington.
When the team arrived in Los Vegas for Sunday’s match-up with the Raiders, Johnson had been with the team for less than a week. The 22-year-old rookie had been picked up from the Chicago Bears practice team in late November after Washington’s prior kicker, Joey Slye, sustained a hamstring injury, according to WUSA9.
Johnson began the season with the New Orleans Saints; he made eight field goals in four games, though he missed three extra points, according to NBC Sports Washington. But it was his ties to the region that made Sunday’s game-winning kick so memorable. Johnson grew up in Bethesda, graduated from Gonzaga College High School in the District, and went on to kick for Virginia Tech.
“I actually grew up a Ravens fan,” Johnson admitted during a press conference held shortly after he joined the team, according to NBC Sports Washington. “But some of my family, they’re Washington fans so I’ve always had a place in my heart for them too and it feels good to represent them.”
“It feels really good to be back,” he added. “I have a lot of friends and families in the area.”
For Washington Football Team kickers, however, local ties haven’t always translated to on-field heroics. Of the three kickers that the team cycled through prior to signing Johnson, two had roots in the area. The club released Fairfax County native Chris Blewitt in early November. And injured kicker Joey Slye is from Stafford, Virginia, according to WUSA9.