Since entering the league as a third-round pick out of Boston College last year, John Johnson has made his share of interceptions.
As a rookie, his first came off of Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson in a critical moment — and he returned the takeaway 69 yards down the left sideline. He'd later joke that he should've scored.
And even in this 2018 season, Johnson's Week 7 interception against the 49ers had a very high degree of difficulty, with him essentially ripping the ball away from tight end George Kittle when quarterback C.J. Beathard tried to force a third-down pass.
But never had Johnson made a more consequential interception than his pick off quarterback Drew Brees in overtime of last Sunday's victory in the NFC title game.
"No question," Johnson said early this week. "The other ones were pretty routine. But that one in a championship game — it's the biggest for sure."
That play was instrumental in setting up kicker Greg Zuerlein's 57-yard field goal that sent the Rams to Super Bowl LIII for a matchup with the Patriots — who have been Super Bowl contenders with head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady since Johnson was in elementary school.
"It's an honor, honestly. He's an all-time great," Johnson said of facing Brady for a Lombardi Trophy. "He's been to the Super Bowl, what, like nine times?"
While Johnson phrased that as a question, he's exactly right. Brady has been to three consecutive Super Bowls and four in the last five years to give him nine overall appearances.
But while Brady is certainly a legend — arguably the greatest of all time — Johnson said the Rams cannot enter one of the biggest stages in sports with a defeatist mentality.
"Oh, he's beatable, though," Johnson said — issuing more a statement of fact than anything else. "So we can't just go in there with the mindset of, 'Ohh, it's Tom Brady.' He's definitely beatable, so we're going to go in there and give him a go."
As the Rams get into their preparations for what will be their toughest challenge yet, Johnson is grateful for the chance to have this kind of success so early in his career.
"It's huge, especially for me — it's Year 2," Johnson said. "It's a blessing. Not a lot of people get the opportunity to do this, so I'm just going to take advantage of it."