I don't know how James Harrison is physically able to so blatantly disrespect Father Time at this point in his career, but damn if it isn't fun to watch!
I know some of you may think I picked Harrison because of the flag he forced on Chiefs left tackle Eric Fisher on the two-point play at the end.
Well you know what ... actually, you might be right.
But even if that is the case, who gives a shit? That flag helped seal the deal for the Steelers. Point blank. Period. So hey, Bub, even if that were the only reason why I picked Harrison as Hoss this week, damnit it would be enough!
It was more than just that one play that gave Harrison an edge.
Harrison made several other plays that were just as impressive, and oh did I already mention that he is only five years younger than me?
On Sunday night, the 38-year-old Harrison was flying all over the damn field like the 30-year-old version of Harrison did back in 2008, the year he won Defensive Player of the Year honors. His effort jumps out as much as his physicality when you watch him on film.
Man, just go look at the play Harrison makes at the 1:45 mark of the first quarter. He lines up out on No. 2 to the trips side, then he edges inside until he is lined up across from tight end Travis Kelce when the ball is snapped. He proceeds to jam the piss out of Kelce, and he is still tenacious enough to fall inside to the B gap and rush quarterback Alex Smith.
Smith sees Harrison coming without a blocker — which would be akin to seeing Jason Voorhees quickly approaching one of us during a late night stroll — and decides to scramble to his left and get the hell out of Dodge. Harrison never stops running and hits Smith going out of bounds on the opposite sideline from where Harrison started.
That's what I call hustling, bruh!
Without that pressure, Smith might have found wide receiver Tyreek Hill standing wide ass open.
Yes, even Alex Smith would've made that throw.
If you still aren't convinced, then go check out the play Harrison made with 5:23 left in the second quarter. Harrison lines up at his normal right outside linebacker spot, but this time the Steelers blitz. Safety Mike Mitchell moves down outside of Harrison as a contain rusher, and Harrison slides inside to the B gap on the outside shoulder of left guard Zach Fulton. On the snap, Harrison shoots to the A gap, towards Fulton's inside shoulder, and into what should have been a momentary double team with Fulton and the center Mitch Morse.
Instead, Fulton tries to get away with putting just his inside hand on Harrison, leaving Morse to essentially try to block Harrison one on one.
If you close your eyes and imagine how that might go, that's pretty much exactly how that went.
Harrison explodes into the backfield after mushing Morse back, splitting him and Fulton. That penetration forces Smith to spin out and once again abandon the pocket. This time he rolls to his left and tries to deliver the ball downfield to running back Spencer Ware, who was matched up with 310-pound defensive tackle Javon Hargrave on an option route.
If Smith had time to deliver that ball to Ware in stride, it would have bad news for Hargrave and the rest of the Steelers defense.
The throw fell incomplete, however, and although the pressure was technically credited to linebacker Ryan Shazier, the Pittsburgh player closest to Smith when he threw the ball, it was Harrison who really wrecked that play.
That was third-and-7, by the way. The Chiefs punted.
Then there were his two tackles for a loss in the third quarter, including one where it really, really looks like Kelce — a damned-good, physical blocker on most occasions — wants absolutely no part of Harrison on a kick-out block.
This Harrison guy is damn-near 40 and still making folks look scared on film. How fucking absurd is that?!
But he wasn't done.
Harrison’s technique is just as responsible for Harrison's ability to keep making plays as his strength. Maybe more so.
We can’t overlook the sack he got on third-and-7 with a little over six minutes left in the third quarter.
Now I could just say Harrison beat Fisher using a "dip-and-rip" and move on, but I need to point out how sick every little detail of Harrison's technique was on that play. See, folks love retweeting those videos of Harrison working out — and hey, the dude can probably legit lift an elephant, so I get it.
Just before the ball is snapped, Harrison edges in tight to Fisher's outside shoulder. This gives the impression that Harrison is going to come with a power rush as he had for much of the day to that point. To compensate, Fisher shortens his kick step at the snap of the football.
Harrison goes right into an upfield rip move. What Harrison does after the rip matters most, however.
Harrison takes his outside (right) hand and forces Fisher's outside (left) hand off his chest and under his (Harrison's) inside arm. That little detail kept Fisher from trying to grab Harrison's jersey as he tried to turn the corner.
File that away for later.
Then, Harrison took his inside (left) hand and grabbed Fisher above his left elbow. I really hope you can visualize this because it’s a dope-ass pass-rush technique that every pass rusher should try to emulate when they use a rip move. Harrison then pulled Fisher's outside (left) arm forward, which made Fisher's whole left side turn toward the line of scrimmage ... and away from his quarterback.
That little itty bitty pull by Harrison got Fisher off balance and leaning forward so that Fisher wasn't able to keep up with Harrison around the corner. It also allowed Harrison to escape clean off the move. The corner had already been shortened by the combination of Harrison's alignment and Fisher's resulting power set. Harrison getting to Smith was academic at that point. He was on Smith so fast that it was a wonder that Smith didn't lose the football. He still forced the Chiefs to punt yet again.
The play also marked the fifth straight playoff game in which Harrison notched at least one sack. Some guys just hope to play in five playoff games in their whole career!
And while I'm thinking about it, I want to point out another big play that you aren't likely to see on a highlight reel. With just under 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter, Smith hits Kelce on a deep dig. Who do you see making the tackle 24 yards down field? That's right, the "senior citizen," James Harrison.
Folks like to say “so and so has a motor,” but Harrison damn near sets the standard for me.
And he still wasn't done.
With 7:21 left in the game and down eight points, the Chiefs were facing third-and-8 from the Pittsburgh 38-yard line. Harrison takes a zone drop to help double cover wide receiver Jeremy Maclin on a slant. When Harrison sees that Smith can’t find anyone, he makes a bee line for him. Fisher was not at all prepared to see Harrison take off like that. Harrison blows by, forcing Smith to run all the way to the other side of the field before throwing the ball away.
I had to take a couple of puffs on my inhaler to catch my breath after watching the replay. Are you friggin’ kidding me?
Now, the Chiefs did end up converting on fourth-and-8, which is how we ended up with the somewhat controversial two-point play.
First off, just know that even as a former defensive end and general hater of anything that benefits the offense ...
I didn't like the holding call on Fisher.
It’s a two-point play that would have tied up the game — a playoff game, mind you — and the hold did not change anything about the outcome. Harrison was too far upfield to get to Smith even before he went to the ground.
Moreover, how many times have you been told that you could call holding on an offensive lineman on almost every play? Well, it’s true! Refs exercise discretion on holding calls all damn game, every week, all season. If there was ever a time to eat your whistle and let guys play, this was that time.
That pass was caught in the end zone for what should have been a conversion. There, I said it.
However, there is no doubt that Harrison's effort forced referees to have to make a decision, so you can't fault him. He made his own luck on the play, so to speak.
Harrison lined up tight to Fisher and went with his patented rip move once more. This time, however, Harrison did not use his outside hand to force Fisher's outside hand under his inside arm as he had earlier in the game.
Remember when I said to make note of that earlier? Well, this time Harrison simply dipped while shooting his rip hard AF. Because Harrison didn't force Fisher's outside hand inside, Fisher was free to grab a hold of Harrison's jersey near the shoulder area.
Had Harrison not fallen, there wouldn't have been anything wrong with Fisher's hand placement, in my opinion. Fisher would have ridden Harrison, and the two-point play would have been counted.
But Harrison's foot slipped as he turned the corner, and his fall exposed the fact that Fisher had a handful of jersey. And hell, the truth of the matter is that it was holding. I'm not disputing that. At the end of the day, like the flag or don't, Harrison forced the matter by making that move and selling out to get to the quarterback.
I think we all can agree that the game was pretty much over after that. So yeah, mark "game-deciding play" down on your crib sheet if you're keeping score.
Father Time may be undefeated, but James Harrison is at least taking him deep into the game. Take it from someone who did a "farewell" write up on Harrison this time last year. Somehow, some way, even at damn near 40 years old, Deebo continues to, well, Deebo the competition. His play all game long — and yes, especially at the very end — helped the Steelers go on the road, in a hostile environment, and get a win over a very good Chiefs team and advance to the AFC Championship. For those efforts, the OG has once again earned my Hoss of the Week award.
As crazy at it sounds, it may still not be the last one of his career.