|Everybody's talking about Harrison's big game - except him|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 08 November 2007 14:15|
From now on, it will be a letdown when Harrison doesn't play close to that level every game. Even if it is illogical to think any NFL defensive player will match Harrison's one-night output of 3 1/2 sacks, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and an interception.
Some players call that a season. Harrison called it a night.
``Nobody knew he could play as good as he played,'' Farrior said. ``Now he let the cat out of the bag and that's what we'll be looking for every week.''
Steelers linebacker Larry Foote said Harrison did so much that, ``I haven't seen anyone do anything like that since high school. You don't see that in college, the NFL.''
Until Monday, Harrison's most recognizable NFL moment came nearly two years ago when a Browns fan dashed onto the field during Pittsburgh's 41-0 victory in Cleveland. Most players would have laughed, welcomed the short break and enjoyed watching the security guards run him down.
Not Harrison. Upset that an outsider violated the players' turf, the 6-foot, 240-pound Harrison decked the fan with a body slam. This wasn't one of those cushioned, pro wrestling style slams, either.
None of his teammates were surprised that Harrison, an undrafted free agent cut several times by Pittsburgh and once by Baltimore, took it upon himself to be an enforcer.
A year ago when a national magazine called Joey Porter the NFL's most feared player, one teammate laughed and said Porter probably wouldn't have won that vote among the Steelers' own linebackers because Harrison would have.
Harrison has always played with an edge, and more than a little anger, since he was passed up in the 2002 draft. He spent several years trying to make an NFL roster, not just the starting lineup, and he still displays uncommon intensity even during practice.
Baltimore's Trevor Pryce dismissed Harrison's career night as an anomaly, but the Steelers saw enough in Harrison that they cut Porter in March so Harrison could move into the lineup.
Even after the Steelers drafted linebackers Lawrence Timmons and LaMarr Woodley in the first two rounds, Harrison stayed in Porter's former spot despite having only eight NFL starts prior to this season.
``He's done it every time anything's happened,'' defensive end Brett Keisel said. ``Any time anyone went down in the last couple of years, he was there. Not only does he go in and play linebacker, he plays special teams, too. It goes to show you how good he is.''
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin talks about wanting his players to be violent - not over the line, but with an understanding that the more physical team usually wins. His role model for that style might be Harrison, who often flashes the same I'm-all-business glare that Hall of Famer Jack Lambert once had.
Maybe it's only a coincidence, but Harrison and Lambert both played at Kent State.
``He's a gym rat,'' Tomlin said. ``He's always in the building. He is a guy who has taken a long route in terms of his professional story. A minority of guys get all the attention ... like the higher-round picks. James is a classic example. He's worked to get to where he is and he appreciates it.''
Even if he seldom talks. Harrison dislikes being interviewed any time, but he was forced to talk Monday. He didn't like it at all, and most of his answers consisted of one or two words, or one sentence at the most.
Harrison dislikes talking so much, he said he almost wishes he doesn't play another game like this so he doesn't have to talk at length again.
What now must be asked is this: Was this one of those Clint Longley-like blips where a player comes in and does something special, then is barely heard from again? Or was this the emergence of Harrison as a star-quality player?
``I would hope this is just the start, but we will see,'' Harrison said.