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Washington kicker becomes hero in debut for hometown team

Washington Football Team defensive tackle Jonathan Allen admitted it after a 17-15 win over the Raiders on Sunday at Allegiant Stadium.

He didn’t know kicker Brian Johnson’s name.

And he wasn’t the only one.

“Not many people on the team really knew his name this week going in,” Washington quarterback Taylor Heinicke said. “He made a name for himself today.”

Johnson capped his first game with the franchise by making the game-winning 48-yard field goal with 37 seconds to play. The 22-year-old rookie — and Washington, D.C., native — was on the Chicago Bears’ practice squad at the same time last week.

No, he can’t believe it, either.

“Kicking for the hometown team itself … it was insane,” said Johnson, who grew up attending games at Washington’s FedExField with a few longtime WFT fans — his mother and brothers.

“The vibe and everything … for not being around it, I felt it. I felt it once I walked in and everything. It’s an awesome locker room to be in. They’re probably still learning my name, but it’s awesome to be here.”

Johnson is Washington’s fourth place-kicker this season, following Dustin Hopkins, Chris Blewitt and Joey Slye.

Hopkins had missed two field goals and extra points and was released in October for Blewitt, who hadn’t kicked since 2016 and had three kicks blocked in two games. Blewitt was released for Slye, who played at Virginia Tech with Johnson.

But Slye injured his hamstring while attempting to make a tackle Monday against the Seattle Seahawks. Johnson said he got a phone call Monday about coming to Washington and reached out to Slye afterward, citing the friendship they’ve maintained since college.

“It was great to see him again and see a familiar face,” said Johnson, who played four games this season for the New Orleans Saints.

And even better to replace him Sunday.

Johnson credited fellow specialists Tress Way and Camaron Cheeseman with easing his transition during the week and helping him get acclimated with Washington’s special teams. He practiced before the game to determine his target lines and felt comfortable. Indoor venues such as Allegiant make 48-yard kicks easier than they would be outdoors.

He made two extra points against the Raiders. Pseudo preparation for his heroics in the final minute.

“Hell, yeah, I’m nervous. …. We just brought him up,” Allen said of Johnson’s winning field goal. “Credit to him. Saved our game.

“I know his name now.”

Contact reporter Sam Gordon at sgordon@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BySamGordon on Twitter.

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