Film Room: James Harrison Goes ‘Fishing’

I find it hard to blame anybody who wants beyond reason to see Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison on the field as much as possible. He is a deserving fan favorite for his dominant play in years past, including a Defensive Player of the Year campaign in 2008, and his work ethic into his late 30s is seemingly unrivaled.

Such sentimental notions didn’t help him get a helmet on the two weeks prior to Sunday’s game, of course, but he did play an important role in the game against the Chiefs earlier this week, helping the knock off the last unbeaten team.

And he achieved that end working against Kansas City left tackle Eric Fisher, against whom he has had his share of success in the past. And that theme would receive its overture for perhaps the last time in week six of the 2017 season.

Harrison didn’t play a lot—not much more than a dozen snaps—but several of those snaps came late, and at a critical moment, with the game on the line. The battle between the two players, however, started with a bit of skullduggery.

Checking in early in the second quarter, the first pass-rush snap of the game for the outside linebacker saw himself effectively neutralized by an illegal move that was not called when Fisher yanked downward on Harrison’s facemask to help bend him over, thus able to control him.

Deebo would have the last laugh when it counted, though, putting together several nice pass-rushing snaps against the former first-overall pick, who is not quite Joe Thomas. About halfway through the quarter, he broke out the rip move that got him around the pocket, but Cameron Heyward’s vacated lane allowed Alex Smith to scramble out of the pocket.

Harrison beat Fisher twice on the Chiefs’ three final snaps, pressuring Smith on second down and sacking him on third down. In the former instance, he was initially covered up by the tight end, who broke inside, leaving him to rush, and once again getting under the tackle with his rip move, which is, evidently, automatic.

They say you shouldn’t fix what isn’t broken, so he pretty much just did the same thing on the following play, but this time was able to get home, sacking the quarterback and leaving the Chiefs to contend with converting on fourth and 18 with the game on the line.

Joey Porter, the outside linebackers coach, talked about Harrison being something of a relief pitcher this year. On Sunday, he was Mariano Rivera, continually pumping out the same pitch, yet repeatedly scoring Ks.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • bob_1

    Fischer also blatantly held Harrison on the play before the sack. Harrison had beaten him, and he grabbed Harrison’s jersey from behind with both hands. as Harrison approached the QB. I don’t know how the refs missed that one.

  • AndyR34

    Because that is legal vs. Deebo.

  • WilliamSekinger

    No doubt. Deebo gets held 50% of the time and it’s never called.

  • bob_1

    Totally agree. And this is after the NFL changed the rules on holding and quarterback hits, largely to stop Harrison from doing his thing. Who knows how many sacks Harrison would have had if the NFL didn’t change the rules at the peak of his career?

  • AndyR34

    To be fair, I believe the ‘truism’ that the refs could call holding on every play. I think they try to be selective as to which ones truly affect the success of the play. But that selectivity also leads to its own problems and errors.

  • Axe Skot


  • treeher

    I love that little dance to the inside and then bursting outside to rip him good.

  • nutty32

    Good one. Fisher can’t hit a cutter, that’s for sure.

  • capehouse

    Nice little fake to the inside of Fisher and then hop to the outside that got him that sack.