|Harrison, injured last year, making an impact again in playoffs|
|Written by Admin|
|Sunday, 13 January 2008 10:18|
Less than 30 seconds after being called for a late hit out of bounds, the New England safety picked off David Garrard to clinch the Patriots' 31-20 AFC playoff victory over Jacksonville. It was Harrison's fourth consecutive playoff game with an interception, tying Aenaes Williams' NFL record.
``I'm not trying to break any records or anything like that. I'm just trying to help my team,'' said Harrison, who had a chance at another pickoff on a ball that was knocked down earlier in the fourth quarter. ``I'm kind of disappointed that I missed one in the end zone. So, fortunately, one came back to me.''
Harrison also has seven interceptions in seven playoff games with New England, tying a franchise record and fifth-best in league history. He'll have a chance to add to that Sunday, when the Patriots host the winner of the game between San Diego and Indianapolis in the AFC championship for a berth in the Super Bowl.
``I didn't play last year in the playoffs, so I'm excited,'' Harrison said. ``We've got an opportunity, and that's all you can ask for, the opportunity to play in a big game. And we're going to relax, we're going to rest, and we're going to get back in here on Tuesday and we're going to learn from all of these bad mistakes that we made. And we're going to get better.''
Harrison played in just three games in 2005 before tearing three ligaments in his left knee and missing the rest of the season; without him, the Patriots lost to Denver in the second round of the playoffs.
Last year, he strained his right knee in the regular-season finale and missed all of the playoffs. Though he resumed practice the week before the AFC championship against Indianapolis, he didn't play and didn't get a chance to come back in the Super Bowl because the Patriots lost to Colts.
``It seems like it was just last week we were in Indy playing in that game. It seems like yesterday,'' tight end Benjamin Watson said. ``So we're excited.''
Harrison's vacation was extended into September with a four-game suspension after he admitted obtaining human growth hormone. But during the season Harrison returned to his role as one of the hardest-hitters in any secondary, a role he reprised with seven tackles - and a few big hits - on Sunday.
``It sends a message that it's going to be a physical day,'' Patriots linebacker Adalius Thomas said. ``They were sweet. They left a bitter taste in your mouth. ... I think it just shows you the physicality of the secondary, that guys went out and hit people.''
Some of the hits were a little too physical.
One of the most-fined and most-suspended players in league history, Harrison was called for unnecessary roughness on consecutive Jaguars drives in the fourth quarter. The first one helped jumpstart a Jacksonville drive that eventually stalled at the Patriots 7, resulting in a field goal that cut New England's lead to 28-20.
After the Patriots answered with Stephen Gostkowski's 35-yard field goal, Harrison handed the Jaguars another 15 yards and moved them past midfield after an 8-yard pass on fourth-and-5. But with 4:17 left in the game, Harrison picked off David Garrard and the Patriots ran the clock down to 32 seconds before Chris Hanson came out for his only punt of the night.