In the gut-wrenching footage, Johnson was rehearsing with Hines Ward when she landed on her head and Ward fell on top of her. As she lay in a ball on the floor, she cried, "I can't feel my arms."
Johnson was rushed to the hospital and, after tests, doctors released her to compete again, though she practiced with a neck brace. Monday night, she and her Pittsburgh Steeler partner danced the tango. Read on for more details.
When they finished their final steps, the ballroom erupted into cheers and judge Carrie Ann Inaba was in tears. Johnson and Ward didn't just make a brave return to competition – they pulled off a flawless performance.
Their smoldering tango earned a trio of 10s – their first perfect score of the season – but not their last.
"It was like something from the Kama Sutra," said judge Len Goodman. "That is a tango!"
"It was like good sex," said Bruno Tonioli. "You never want it to end."
"The connection was just beyond what we ask for in a dance routine," said Inaba. "This is someone really taking care of a partner."
On a grueling night in which the four remaining couples performed three dances, including a final-round winter-takes-all cha cha, Chelsea Kane and Mark Ballas finished first with a total of 73 points.
Ward and Johnson were next with 60 – they got a perfect 30 on their second dance, too. They were followed by Kirstie Alley and Maksim Chmerkovskiy with 54, and Ralph Macchio (also working through an injury) and Karina Smirnoff with 48.
But it was Johnson and Ward who left the most indelible impression.
"Praise to God she's still walking," said Ward. "She's a warrior. I love her. "
Added Johnson: "It could have been really bad. I feel so blessed and lucky to be okay."