Johnny Manziel could do nothing but lie motionless after a busted play late in the Cleveland Browns loss to the Buffalo Bills, inspiring a meme that almost instantly spread across the internet.
The play, which took place about halfway through the fourth quarter, started with a botched snap that sent Manziel backpedaling toward his own goal line. When Manziel finally regained himself and tried to throw the ball, he was met with the force of giant defensive lineman Kyle Williams, who sent him sprawling to the turf.
As the ball bounced into the endzone and was recovered by the Bills, Johnny Manziel continued to lay motionless on the turf, which looked to many like he gave up and went to sleep.
The Johnny Manziel meme hit the internet almost instantly after the play. Some compared Manziel to Manny Pacquiao sprawled out on the boxing canvas. Others transposed Manziel’s body in other locations.
I tihnk it’s awfully nice of Manny Pacquiao to keep Johnny Football company. What a nice guy. pic.twitter.com/e3mjyBvpFQ
— Isaac (@WorldofIsaac) November 30, 2014
Manziel explained that on the play, he had a bit of an “oh no” moment when he realized that he was the only player between the Bills and what appeared to be an easy touchdown.
“As the ball goes behind you in the end zone and you’re the deepest guy on the field, you know it’s all downhill from there,” Manziel said.
But Manziel got some help from the men in stripes. After a long review, referees decided that Manziel’s arm was going forward and ruled the play an incomplete pass rather than a touchdown for Buffalo. But the Browns failed to covert a 4th-and-6 on the very next play, and the Bills added a field goal on the next drive.
The game had plenty of significance beyond the creation of the Johnny Manziel meme. With the win, the Bills held onto their slim playoff hopes while the loss dealt a major blow to Cleveland’s postseason chances.
But even more importantly, it may have marked the beginning of the Johnny Manziel era in Cleveland. He replaced starter Brian Hoyer, who has endured a stretch of several ineffective games. Before the botched play, Manziel led the Browns on an 80-yard touchdown drive, their only touchdown of the day.
Many believe that Manziel will take over the helm for the rest of the season.
“If that is the case and my name is called, then I’ll definitely be ready,” said Manziel, who completed 5 of 8 passes for 63 yards.
But the next time Johnny Manziel gets knocked down in the endzone and the ball is loose, he may want to do more than just lay motionless.